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the 60ths

timeline of the cuban missile crisis

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January 1, 1959

  • Fidel Castro assumes power after the Cuban Revolution.

December 19, 1960

  • Cuba openly aligns itself with the Soviet Union and their policies.

January 3, 1961

  • The U.S. terminates diplomatic and consular relation with Cuba.

April 12, 1961

  • President Kennedy pledges the U.S. will not intervene militarily to overthrow Castro.

April 17, 1961

  • Backed by the U.S., a group of Cuban exiles invades Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to trigger an anti-Castro rebellion. The invasion fails and more than a thousand Cuban rebels are captured by Castro's forces.

June 3-4, 1961

  • Khrushchev and Kennedy hold summit in Vienna.

July 27, 1962

  • Castro announces that Cuba is taking measures that would make any direct U.S. attack on Cuba the equivalent of a world war. He claims that the U.S.S.R. has invested greatly in helping defend his country.

August 10, 1962

  • CIA Director John McCone sends a memo to Kennedy expressing his belief that Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) will be deployed in Cuba
.

August 31, 1962

  • Senator Kenneth Keating tells the Senate that there is evidence of Soviet missile installations in Cuba. Keating urges Kennedy to take action.

September 11, 1962

  • In a speech to the UN, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko warns that an American attack on Cuba could mean war with the Soviet Union.

October 9, 1962

  • Kennedy orders a U-2 reconnaissance flight over western Cuba, delayed by bad weather until the 14th.

October 10, 1962

  • Senator Keating charges that six intermediate-range ballistic missile bases are being constructed in Cuba.

October 14, 1962

  • A U-2 flying over western Cuba discovers missile sites. Photographs obtained by this flight provide hard evidence that Soviets have missiles in Cuba.

October 15, 1962

  • A readout team at the National Photographic Intelligence Center reviews photos taken during the U-2 flight and identifies objects similar to MRBM components observed in the U.S.S.R. at San Cristobal.
  • McGeorge Bundy decides after hearing about the discovery of missiles in Cuba not to inform the president until the next day.
  • McNamara is shown the photographic evidence of the MRBMs at San Cristobal.

October 16, 1962

  • Bundy breaks the new to Kennedy who calls for a meeting of a group later to become know as EX-COMM.
  • At that meeting Kennedy and his advisors discuss possible diplomatic and military courses of action.

October 17, 1962

  • Kennedy flies to Connecticut to campaign for the Democratic Party and congressional candidate Abe Ribicoff.
  • Robert Kennedy and Theodore Sorensen meet the President at the airport and fill him in on what he had missed during that day's deliberations. Throughout EX-COMM's discussions, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and especially the Air Force strongly argue for an air strike.
  • After another U-2 flight on the night of the 17th, the military discoveres intermediate range (IRBMs) SS-5 nuclear missiles.

October 18, 1962

  • Gromyko and Kennedy meet for two hours. Reading from notes, Gromyko assures Kennedy that Soviet aid to Cuba has been only for the "defensive capabilities of Cuba."

October 19, 1962

  • Kennedy departs Washington for scheduled campaign speeches in Cleveland and the West Coast.

October 20, 1962

  • Kennedy's Press Secretary announces that the President is canceling the remainder of his campaign trip because of an "upper respiratory infection."
  • Kennedy meets with his advisors and orders a defensive quarantine instituted as soon as possible. The full operation is reviewed and approved, and the President's television address is scheduled for the next evening.

October 21, 1962

  • Kennedy is told by General Maxwell Taylor that an air strike could not guarantee to destroy all Soviet missiles in Cuba.
  • Kennedy decides on a quarantine of Cuba for the time being.
  • Kennedy requests that the press not deny him the "element of surprise" or he warns, "I don't know what the Soviets will do."
  • Another U-2 flight that day reveals bombers and Migs being rapidly assembled and cruise missile sites being built on Cuba's northern shore.

October 22, 1962

  • Congressional leaders assemble at the White House for a meeting with Kennedy. They are shown the photographic evidence of the Soviet missile installations. The congressional leaders express support, but many advocate stronger action.
  • The President addresses the nation in a televised speech, announcing the presence of offensive missile sites in Cuba.
  • U.S. military forces go to DEFCON 3.
  • U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay is reinforced by Marines.

October 23, 1962

  • Kennedy orders six Crusader jets to fly a low level reconnaissance mission.
  • Organization of American States (OAS) unanimously approves of the quarantine against Cuba.
  • By the end of the day U.S. ships had taken up position along the quarantine line, 800 miles from Cuba.
  • Late in the evening, the President sends Robert Kennedy to the Soviet embassy to talk with Ambassador Dobrynin.
  • Kennedy receives a letter from Khrushchev in which Khrushchev comments that there is a, "serious threat to peace and security of peoples."
  • President decides to give Khrushchev more time and pulls the quarantine line back to 500 miles.

October 24, 1962

  • Soviet ships en route to Cuba with questionable cargo either slow down or reverse their course except for one.
  • Military forces go to DEFCON 2 the highest ever in U.S. history.

October 25, 1962

  • Kennedy sends a letter to Khrushchev laying the responsibility for the crisis on the Soviet Union.
  • EX-COMM discusses a proposal to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey in exchange for the withdrawal of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

October 26, 1962

  • The Soviet ship Marucla is cleared through the quarantine.
  • During an EX-COMM meeting, Kennedy says that he believes the quarantine alone can not force the Soviet government to remove its offensive weapons from Cuba.
  • A CIA report from that morning states that there was no halt in progress in the development of the missile sites and another reconnaissance flight reveals the Soviets were also attempting to camouflage the missiles.
  • Aleksandr Fomin, who was known to be the KGB station chief in Washington, requests a meeting with ABC News correspondent John Scali. Fomin proposes the dismantling of Soviet bases under U.N. supervision in exchange for a public pledge from the U.S. not to invade Cuba.
  • Khrushchev sends another letter to Kennedy proposing removing his missiles if Kennedy would publicly announce never to invade Cuba.

October 27, 1962

  • A new letter from Khrushchev arrives, proposing a public trade of Soviet missiles in Cuba for U.S. missile in Turkey.
  • An American U-2 is shot down over Cuba killing the pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson.
  • U-2 accidentally strays into Soviet airspace near Alaska nearly being intercepted by Soviet fighters.
  • Dobrynin and Robert Kennedy meet and discuss the price of removing the missiles from Cuba.
  • Kennedy writes Khrushchev a letter stating that he will make a statement that the U.S. will not invade Cuba if Khrushchev removes the missiles from Cuba.

October 28, 1962

  • Khrushchev announces over Radio Moscow that he has agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba.