The Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962)? A Timeline Prelude?Oct. 14-15: American U2 spy plane flies a mission over western Cuba. For the first time in two weeks the clouds don't block the view, and Air Force Major Richard S. Heyser returns with photos of Soviet nuclear missiles being transported in Cuba. The photos shot over Cuba are analyzed at the National Photographic Intelligence Center. The missiles are identified as surface-tosurface medium range ballistic missiles (MRBM). Day 1?Tuesday, Oct. 16: At 8:45 a.m. President Kennedy is informed about the missiles in Cuba. He calls together a team of advisors to serve as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (ExComm). Day 2Wednesday, Oct. 17: U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Adlai Stevenson, sends a letter to President Kennedy. He writes: "Because an attack [of Cuba], would very likely result in Soviet reprisals somewhere-Turkey, Berlin, etc.-it is most important that we have as much of the world with us as possible. To start or risk starting a nuclear war is bound to be divisive at best and the judgments of history seldom coincide with the tempers of the moment." Day 3?Thursday, Oct. 18: The count of missiles believed to be stationed in Cuba stands at 40 IRBMs.The public still does not know about the missiles. Kennedy meets with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in the White House but does not reveal that he is aware of the missile build up in Cuba. Day 4?Friday, Oct. 19: President Kennedy visits Chicago at the invitation of Mayor Daley. Day 5Saturday, Oct. 20: Kennedy returns to the White House. Press Secretary Pierre Salinger tells the media that Kennedy "has a cold.? An estimated 20-30 Soviet ships are en route to Cuba. In a five-hour meeting by the Executive Committee, blockade/quarantine is discussed and adoptedĚ Day 6?Sunday, Oct. 21: General Walter Sweeney, commander-inchief of the Tactical Air Command, tells President Kennedy that no air strike will destroy all the missiles in Cuba. Day 7Monday, Oct. 22: Fidel Castro announces a general mobilization and war alert throughout Cuba. At 7:00 p.m. President Kennedy broadcasts a live message to the nation: ?This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missiles sites is now in preparation of that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.? Day 8?Tuesday, Oct. 23: President Kennedy signs Proclamation 3504, which authorizes the naval quarantine of Cuba.Twenty-six ships are confirmed heading towards Cuba from the USSR. Kennedy orders no shooting without his explicit orders. The Organization of American States (OAS), at the request of the US, approves a resolution calling for the removal of the missiles by unanimous vote (1 abstention). The U.S. detonates an atomic bomb in Johnston Island, South Pacific, but President Kennedy is not aware of the nuclear test until after the fact. Cuba calls for a meeting at the U.N. Security Council to discuss the crisis. Day 9?Wednesday, Oct. 24: The naval quarantine begins. General Thomas Power, commander-inchief of the Strategic Air Command, raises the alert level to DefCon 2 (indicating readiness for war), without approval from President Kennedy. Construction on the missile sites in Cuba continues at an accelerated pace. U.S. naval forces encircling Cuba include a joint force of 250,000 Marines and ground troops, over 1,000 planes and 250 naval vessels. Day 10?Thursday, Oct. 25: U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson presents evidence at the United Nations. UN Secretary General U Thant calls for a "cooling off" period. Khrushchev agrees, but Kennedy does not. The U.S. conducts an Atlas missile launch at Vandenberg AFB. The President is not aware of this test until after the fact. A ship bound for Cuba from USSR boarded and inspected. Castro authorizes Cuba's air-defense forces to fire on all American aircraft within range. Day 11?Friday, Oct. 26: A letter from Khrushchev to Kennedy: the missiles will be removed if the US issues a pledge not to invade Cuba. Fidel Castro sends a letter to Khrushchev, who mistakenly interprets it as an appeal for a Soviet nuclear first-strike. Day 12?Saturday, Oct. 27: Another letter (harsher, more demanding) from Khrushchev emerges, adding the removal of missiles from Turkey as a condition, and signaling a possible political coup in the Soviet Union. Kennedy issues orders to attack Cuba to begin on Monday morning. An air force pilot (Major Rudolf Anderson Jr.) is shot down in recon run over Cuba by Soviet forces (under General G.A. Voronkov, acting without the approval of Khrushchev. President Kennedy decides to accept the October 26 letter and "pretend" the October 27 letter doesn't exist. At 8:05 pm he sends a response letter to Khrushchev. Bobby Kennedy visits the Soviet embassy to make offer: the US will remove the Jupiter missiles (from Turkey) within six months, but nothing can be said of this publicly. He adds that the US will deny such a claim if it is publicized. Day 13?Sunday, Oct. 28: President Kennedy receives a letter from Chairman Khrushchev. Aside from sharing his concern that the crisis was spiraling out of control, the Soviet leader accepts the proposal in the president's October 27 message. Castro issues a five-point plan for ending the problems which lead to the crisis, it includes: an end to the US embargo, an end to US support for Cuban counterrevolutionary activities, and the return of the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The offer was rejected by the US. On November 20, Kennedy ends the naval quarantine after hearing from Khrushchev that the IL-28 bombers will be removed from Cuba in 30 days. Len Mustazza Cuban Missile Crisis--Timeline
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