Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev was watching the debacle that was going on with the United States and Cuba and saw a way that he could take advantage of the situation and possibly make America look bad at the same time. He saw that Pres. Kennedy got weak in the knees when faced with public opinion that didn't go his way, and developed a plan that would not only take advantage of Pres. Kennedy's indecisiveness but also get those hated American nuclear missiles out of his backyard.
Since Cuba was a communist ally of the USSR, Khrushchev started secretly sending parts of nuclear missiles to Cuba on cargo ships which were then assembled by Soviet technicians and the military. But one day a U2 spy plane over flying Cuba, [see I told you I would get back to the real story], spotted some odd cylindrical shapes on the deck of a cargo ship and the CIA made the determination that they were missile parts. Well I'm here to tell you that got some knickers in a twist in Washington right now. It was embarrassing enough for America to have a communist country just an innertube ride away. But for that country and its lunatic leader to have nuclear weapons was completely unacceptable.
Pres. Kennedy decided that the best course of action was to blockade Cuba and prevent any more Russian ships from bringing in any more nuclear weapons. That sounds all well and good of course, but what do you do if the Russian supply ship and its heavily armed Russian Navy escort ship decides that they're not gonna stop. Do we get tough and blow them out of the water, possibly starting a war with Russia? Do we use the Obama method and tell the ships, "you go ahead, I'll catchya ya latter". And have the world lose all respect for us just like..... Well, NOW. Or do we negotiate with the Russians and try to work it out, and what if we can't work it out, the Beatles never anticipated that.
And that Ladies and gentlemen, in a nutshell, is why, as a teenager, I was concerned about being incinerated in a nuclear attack.
Homestead Air Force Base at the time was both a SAC and a TAC base, which in English means it had B-52 bombers and F-104 fighters stationed on it. If memory serves me Homestead Air Force Base was about 160 miles from Cuba which means that a supersonic fighter or a superdupersonic missile can cover that distance in a matter of minutes which in an attack doesn't leave you much time to do anything except run around in circles like your hairs on fire. and the fact that there are B-52s at the base tells anyone and everyone that there are nuclear weapons stored at the base. Which is another reason why the base would be one of the first places the Russians would target
During that time the Army moved thousands of soldiers to the area around Homestead Air Force Base, I remember feeling sorry for them because they were living in tents out in some seriously mosquito infested areas that I would drive past on my Cushman Eagle scooter while going fishing. Hey, I said I was concerned not devastated. There were Army tanks stationed at the main gate and the back gate of the base. And all around the base there were mobile hawk missile launchers that were state-of-the-art ground to air missiles back in the day.
I never did understand what good all that would do if the Russians launched a nuclear missile at Homestead Air Force Base, but I was just a kid and probably didn't understand the nuances of nuclear war. They didn't have a school on the base so I went to South Dade high school which was about 3 1/2 miles away, which happen to be just about as far as my Cushman Eagle scooter would go without breaking down. We didn't get the instructions about hiding under our desk like you've seen the school kids get in documentaries. When we asked, what are we supposed to do? We were told, "don't worry about it".
I remember my Mom and Dad talking about Dad staying home and the rest of us going up to South Georgia to stay with some relatives. My Dad was on standby so he was always on the flightline and seldom at home anyway. But my Mom wouldn't go, and none of our relatives were dumb enough to take my sister and I without a parent being there.
Things looked pretty bleak for a while but thank goodness cooler heads prevailed. A few egos got smashed, some crows were properly prepared and eaten, and big shots from both countries portrayed themselves as heroes. Russia decided it no longer trusted Cuba with something as dangerous as a nuclear missile. America decided that we no longer wanted missiles on Russia's doorstep, and promised not to attack or help Miami's Cubans attack Castro's island paradise ever again, "cross our hearts and hope to die". And we all lived happily ever after.