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Archive for the month “October, 2012”

JFK HAD AN ACUTE SENSE OF NEARNESS TO AMERICA’S PAST

JFK HAD AN ACUTE SENSE OF NEARNESS TO AMERICA’S PAST


Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Listening In:  The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy,” edited by Ted Widmer & published by Hyperion, 2012.

 

The title of Chapter 1 is HISTORY.


Mr. Widmer says:


“John F. Kennedy possessed an acute sense of his nearness to the American past.”


He cites the example of how President Kennedy had historians work & speak in the White House.


Although he doesn’t mention Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. by name, this is obviously one historian he has in mind.


JFK also joined the American Historical Association*. 


*The American Historical Association was founded in 1884 & chartered in 1889 to promote the teaching of history & preservation of historical documents.


The list of past presidents includes:  John Jay, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Frederick Jackson Turner, Theodore Roosevelt & Woodrow Wilson. 



And, of course, John F. Kennedy had experienced history 1st hand in his travels in Europe before the beginning of World War II & his service in the US Navy in the South Pacific during that war.


Widmer also writes that JFK’s presidency was influenced by history.


Examples which come to mind are the centennial of the start of the Civil War (1861-1961) impacting the civil rights movement & the Yalta agreement at the end of World War II impacting the Berlin crisis of 1961.


Mr. Widmer had written in his introduction that the reasons why JFK had the audio recording system installed in the White House in 1962 may never be known, but he speculates in this chapter that because JFK often talked of one day writing his memoirs, he may have had that in mind in having an audio record to serve as a source in that process.


Chapter 1 also includes a transcript of the 1st recording on CD1 which comes with the book that was made in 1940 after JFK graduated from Harvard & published his 1st book, Why England Slept.


The announcer asks:


“What are your plans for the future?”


JFK answers:


“Well, I don’t know exactly yet.  I’m interested more or less in working sometime in my life for the government, but I haven’t really decided as yet.”**


**JFK+50 COMMENT


I liked United States history even before JFK was elected.  I grew up with historical heroes like Davy Crockett on television & in the movies.  


I believe strongly, however, that John F. Kennedy’s presidency turned my interest into a love or passion that would lead to a 40 year career in teaching the subject.


I honestly cannot imagine how my life would have been without a President Kennedy.


Pierre Salinger once said that not a single day went by after JFK’s death that someone didn’t mention President Kennedy’s name to him & he added “so it’s impossible for me to forget about him.”

 

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OUR PLANET IS SAVED AS MISSILE CRISIS ENDS

Monday, October 29, 1962

OUR PLANET IS SAVED AS MISSILE CRISIS ENDS

 

Washington, D.C.  (JFK+50) The planet has been teetering on the edge of nuclear abyss for the past thirteen days as the Soviet Union & United States faced off over a missile crisis in Cuba.


That crisis came to a successful end yesterday when Radio Moscow announced the Soviets were in the process of dismantling the nuclear missiles & preparing their return to the USSR.


With the pledge of the United States that an armed invasion would not be launched on Cuba, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev said that it was no longer necessary for his government to have the missiles there.*


*Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy wrote these words in a letter to Mr. Khrushchev after her husband’s death:


“You & he were adversaries, but you were allied in a determination that the world would not be blown up.  The danger which troubled (JFK) was that war might be started…by the…little men.  


While big men know…self control & restraint, little men are…moved more by fear & pride…”


Michael Dobbs writes in the conclusion of his book on the crisis:


“The Cuban missile crisis demonstrates the sometimes pivotal role of personality…had someone else been president in October 1962, the outcome could have been different.”

 

Ex Comm Meeting, October 29, 1962, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library Image


                  



Source


“One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev & Castro On the Brink of Nuclear War,” by Michael Dobbs, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008.

 





RADIO MOSCOW SAYS MISSILES IN CUBA ARE BEING DISMANTLED

Sunday, October 28, 1962

RADIO MOSCOW SAYS MISSILES IN CUBA ARE BEING DISMANTLED

 

Washington, D.C.  (JFK+50) Radio Moscow transmitted a message from Soviet Premier Khrushchev this morning announcing his decision to diffuse the 13 day crisis by dismantling the nuclear missiles in Cuba & returning them to the USSR.


The statement, read by an announcer beginning at 9 a.m. Washington time, began:


“This is Moscow speaking…” followed by these words:


“In order to eliminate…the conflict which endangers the cause of peace…the Soviet government…has given a new order to dismantle the weapons (in Cuba)…& to crate & return them to the Soviet Union.”


Premier Khrushchev said, later in the message, that he was assured by JFK’s letter of Oct. 27, that the United States would not invade Cuba.


The message concluded with Mr. Khrushchev saying:


“We are confident that reason will triumph, that war will not be unleashed & peace & the security of the peoples will be insured.”


President Kennedy called Khrushchev’s decision to remove the missiles from Cuba “statesmanlike.”*


*The announcement by Radio Moscow on the 13th day of the Cuban Missile Crisis followed the most dangerous day of the crisis known as “Black Saturday.”


During an EXCOMM meeting late Saturday afternoon, General Maxwell Taylor told JFK that the Joint Chiefs were calling for massive air strikes by Monday morning “unless there is evidence…that the weapons are being dismantled.”


JFK learned of Khrushchev’s decision as he was dressing for church.  He said to Dave Powers: “I feel like a new man now.  Do you realize we had an air strike all arranged?  Thank God, it’s all over.”


While most EXCOMM members were pleased with the resolution of the crisis, the Joint Chiefs were not.  Air Force General Curtis LeMay called it “The worst defeat in our history.”


Source


“One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev & Castro On the Brink of Nuclear War,” by Michael Dobbs, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008.

 

S-75 Dzwina RB2
Photo by Radomil
June 6, 2005
Poznan


                   






U2 PILOT SHOT DOWN OVER CUBA

Black Saturday, October 27, 1962

U2 PILOT SHOT DOWN OVER CUBA

 

Washington, D.C.  (JFK+50) President Kennedy was informed this afternoon during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council that Rudolf Anderson’s U-2 was shot down by Soviet SAM (surface-to-air) missiles this morning as he was returning from a mission over Cuba.*

 

Major Rudolf Anderson

According to sources, Major Anderson was shot down on the north side of the island after flying north to south then east.


The President was informed of the loss of the U2 by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.


*2 surface-to-air missiles were fired at the U2 at 11:19 a.m. Washington time.  Major Anderson was killed instantly & his aircraft broke apart. 


Major Rudolf Anderson (1927-1962), was born in Greenville, SC & graduated from Clemson University.  In 1962, he was in the 4080 Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. He was honored after death with the 1st Air Force Cross & the Distinguished Service Medal. 


US DESTROYER DROPS DEPTH CHARGE ON SOVIET SUB OFF CUBAN COAST


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The USS Cony, a destroyer, dropped depth charges this afternoon on a Soviet submarine which was near the quarantine or blockade line off the coast of Cuba.***


***The Soviet submarine was armed with nuclear torpedoes & commanders were considering using them.


KHRUSHCHEV SENDS SECOND LETTER TO JFK DEMANDING US MISSILES IN TURKEY BE REMOVED


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Radio Moscow read Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 2nd letter to President Kennedy on the air.


The original letter arrived at the White House this morning.


This letter added another requirement for a settlement of the crisis.  Mr. Khrushchev wants, in addition to a pledge that there will be no armed invasion of Cuba, the U.S. to remove its nuclear missiles located in Turkey.


The White House has issued no comment on this letter.

 

U2 STRAYS INTO RUSSIAN AIR SPACE, SOVIETS SCRAMBLE FIGHTERS


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) A US U2 aircraft, on a mission unrelated to Cuba flying over the North Pole, accidentally flew over 300 miles into Soviet air space this afternoon.


Sources say that Soviet fighters were scrambled in response.****


****The U2 flew at an altitude which was not attainable by the Soviet fighters & was able to fly back & land safely in Alaska.


Source: TWE Remembers:  Black Saturday–Near Calamities Abound as JFK Offers Khrushchev a Deal, by J.M. Lindsay, Oct 27, 2012, www.blogs.cfr.org 




STEVENSON WAITS FOR ANSWER “UNTIL HELL FREEZES OVER”

Thursday, October 25, 1962

STEVENSON WAITS FOR ANSWER “UNTIL HELL FREEZES OVER”

 

New York City (JFK+50) With the missile crisis into its 10th day, the temperature shot up from hot to a boil at the United Nations today when US ambassador Adlai Stevenson posed this question to Soviet ambassador Valerian Zorin:


“Do you…deny that the USSR has placed…medium & intermediate range missiles in Cuba?


Yes or no….


Don’t wait for the translation (into Russian)….yes or no?”


Zorin*, obviously taken aback by the tone of Stevenson’s question, responded:


“I am not in an American courtroom, sir, continue your statement.  You will receive your answer in due course.”


Without batting an eye, Adlai Stevenson shot back:


“I am prepared to wait for your answer until hell freezes over, if that’s your decision.”**


But Stevenson had the evidence to present to Zorin & the UN Security Council.  Enlarged U2 photographs showing the nuclear missile sites in Cuba were shown.

 

UN Security Council, October 25, 1962, PD-USGOV photo


                    

*Michael Dobbs writes that Zorin was “tired…ill” & uninformed by Moscow.  Zorin took the standard Soviet diplomatic stance of denial.


**JFK, watching on television, said following Stevenson’s statement, “Terrific. I never knew Adlai had it in him.”

 

Adlai Stevenson, June 23, 1961, Library of Congress photo


                       

Sources:  Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight, 2008.


James M. Lindsay, TWE Remembers, 10/25/2012.

 

SOVIET SHIPS BOUND FOR CUBA STOP OR TURN BACK

Wednesday, October 24, 1962

SOVIET SHIPS BOUND FOR CUBA STOP OR TURN BACK

 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) During a critical briefing at the White House today by CIA director , John McCone, a message was delivered from the Office of Naval Intelligence.


Mr. McCone, who was handed the message by an aide, read it & then said:


“Mr. President…all six Soviet ships…in Cuban waters…have either stopped or reversed course.”*

 

US Navy Photo, 1962


Dean Rusk, JFK’s Secretary of State, said:


“We’re eyeball to eyeball, & the other fellow just blinked.”


Having put in a full day dealing with the crisis, the President enjoyed a private late night dinner with Mrs. Kennedy & close friends including journalist Charles Bartlett.


At one point, Mr. Bartlett proposed a toast to celebrate the day’s events.  JFK responded:


“You don’t want to celebrate in the game this early.”


*The CIA identified 22 Soviet ships heading for Cuba, 2 of which were approaching the blockade line 500 miles off the East coast of the island.


Khrushchev had ordered his ships to turn around “shortly after Kennedy’s nationwide televised address” announcing the quarantine of Cuba.


Sources:  Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight, 2008.


James M. Lindsay, TWE Remembers, 10/24/2012.

 

JFK SIGNS QUARANTINE PROCLAMATION AFTER OAS ACTION

Tuesday, October 23, 1962

JFK SIGNS QUARANTINE PROCLAMATION AFTER OAS ACTION

 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) At 7 p.m. (EDT) tonight, President Kennedy signed Proclamation 3504 at his desk in the Oval Office authorizing a naval quarantine of Cuba to take effect at 10 a.m. (EDT) October 24.

 

JFK Signs Quarantine Proclamation, Oct 23, 1962, Photo by Abbie Rowe, JFK Library Image


   


The blockade was announced by the President last night to more than 100 million Americans watching on national television.


JFK waited to sign the proclamation until the Organization of American States approved a resolution to “individually or collectively impose the quarantine of Cuba.”


The resolution was passed earlier in the day by a vote of 19-0.


Meanwhile, at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson made the case for a naval blockade.


Stevenson called Cuba “an accomplice in the communist enterprise of world domination.”


Later this evening, the White House received a letter from Chairman Khrushchev in which he did not admit the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba or offer any concessions to the United States.*


*Source:  “TWE Remembers: The OAS Endorses a Quarantine of Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day 8),” by James M. Lindsay, http://www.blogs.cfr.org.



WHERE WERE THE NUCLEAR WARHEADS?


In October 1962, at the same time JFK was considering a course of action in the Missile Crisis, the Central Intelligence Agency could not tell him for certain that the Soviet missiles were armed with nuclear warheads.


This is important, because his military advisers were favoring an armed invasion of Cuba by American forces.


Michael Dobbs writes:


“A week after the discovery of the Soviet missiles, CIA analysts were still unable to answer the president’s most urgent question: where are the nuclear warheads?”


Dobbs continues….


“The Soviet nuclear arsenal…far exceeded the worst nightmares of anyone in Washington.  


It included….(not only) the ballistic missiles…but (also) an array of smaller weapons that could wipe out an invading army…”


Mr. Dobbs also lists the nuclear warheads that were in Cuba:


36 one megaton for medium range R-12 missiles

36 fourteen kilaton for cruise missiles

12 two kilaton for Lunas

6 twelve kilaton for IL28s


*note: 1 megaton – 1 million tons of TNT, 1 kilaton – 1000 tons of TNT

            the a-bomb dropped on Hiroshima = 15 kilatons**


**Source:  “One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev & Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War,” by Michael Dobbs, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008.

 

Soviet R-12 Missile, Red Square, Moscow, USSR, CIA Photo


             

JFK SPEAKS TO NATION ON CUBAN MISSILES, ANNOUNCES BLOCKADE

Monday, October 22, 1962

JFK SPEAKS TO NATION ON CUBAN MISSILES, ANNOUNCES BLOCKADE

 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) At 7 p.m. (EDT) tonight, President Kennedy spoke to a national television audience of more than 100 million & announced that a naval quarantine or blockade will be set up to block further shipments of Soviet nuclear missiles & related materials to Cuba.


JFK said:


“A strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated–all ships…bound for Cuba…will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons be turned back.


It shall be (our) policy to regard any missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”


The President also called for involvement by the United Nations Security Council or the Organization of American States.


JFK concluded his address by saying the goal of the United States is not…


“the victory of might, but vindication of right–not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace & freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world.  God willing, that goal will be achieved.”*


*During the address, the Strategic Air Command went to DEFCON-3 or Defense Condition 3…just 2 steps from nuclear war.  Later, the status would go to DEFCON 2 for the 1st time in history.


GENERAL GERHART ORDERS NUCLEAR WARHEADS INSTALLED ON F106s


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) At 4:37 p.m (EDT) today, General John Gerhart*, commander-in-chief of the North American Defense Command, gave the order to install nuclear weapons on F106 fighter jets which were then deployed to airfields in remote areas.

 

F-106 Delta Dart
5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron
Photo by SSgt Bill Thompson
USAF Image


The action, directed from the White House, is part of the response by the Kennedy administration to the buildup of Soviet nuclear missile sites in Cuba.


The nuclear weapons installed have been identified as MB-1 “Genie” air-to-air missiles, each with a 1.5 kilaton warhead.


*General John K. Gerhart (1907-1981), born in Saginaw, Michigan, graduated from the University of Chicago & Harvard Business School.  He commanded B-17s in WWII & became 1st Deputy Chief of Staff at Air Force HQ before his appointment to NADC commander by JFK.

General John K. Gerhart
United States Air Force
USAF Photo

                 



MARINES ACTIVE IN KEY WEST AS JFK PREPARES TO SPEAK TO NATION

Sunday, October 21, 1962

MARINES ACTIVE IN KEY WEST AS JFK PREPARES TO SPEAK TO NATION

 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The Washington Post reported today that “unusual (military) activity” has been observed in Key West, Florida.


The Post says:


“The sudden appearance of Marines (here) spark wide speculation as to their ultimate objective in this Cuba-conscious city just 90 miles from Havana.”


Meanwhile instead of spending his typical Sunday in Hyannis Port or Palm Beach, President Kennedy was involved in serious discussions with his advisers at the White House.


JFK, who first attended morning Mass at St. Stephen’s Church, reaffirmed the decision he made yesterday to order a naval blockade of Cuba.


The Executive Committee of the National Security Council, or EXCOMM, reviewed a draft of the speech prepared by Theodore Sorensen for delivery by the President tomorrow night.


Because members of EXCOMM agreed that any comparison with the Soviet blockade of Berlin of 1948 should be avoided, the term blockade was replaced with “quarantine.”


One of the factors perhaps influencing JFK to stay with his decision was the report by General Walter Sweeney, Jr.*, head of USAF Tactical Air Command, that a U.S. airstrike on the missiles would take out only a maximum of 90% leaving some operational.**

 

General Walter C. Sweeney, Jr.
United States Air Force
USAF Photo

 

*Walter C. Sweeney, Jr. (1909-1965) Born in Wheeling, WVA was commander of the US Army AF Task Group during the Battle of Midway in WWII.


The Four Star General, who became Director of Plans of Strategic Air Command,  died in December 1965.



Dean Rusk, JFK & Bob McNamara
White House Cabinet Room
January 1961/photo by Abbie Rowe, JFK Library Image


      

**Source:  “TWE Remembers: JFK Prepares to Tell the Nation About Soviet Missiles in Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day 6), by James M. Lindsay, www.blogs.cfr.org/

 

McNAMARA SAYS 8000 SOVIET TROOPS IN CUBA

Saturday, October 20, 1962

McNAMARA SAYS  8000 SOVIET TROOPS IN CUBA

 

Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara* said today that CIA analysts estimate that the USSR has deployed “six thousand to eight thousand” troops to Cuba.


The Secretary said this estimate was based on the number of Soviet ships sent to Cuba.**


*Robert S. “Bob” McNamara (1916-2009) was born in San Francisco, California & graduated from UC Berkeley in 1937 & Harvard Business School in 1939.  He served in the US Army in WWII & became president of Ford Motor Company in 1960.  He served as Defense Secretary from 1961 to 1968.


**According to Michael Dobbs by Oct 20 there were actually more than 40,000 Soviet troops in Cuba. Dobbs says that the inaccurate report was based on the number of Soviet ships estimated to have arrived in Cuba.

 

JFK & McNamara, Cabinet Room, The White House, June 19, 1962, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, NARA/JFK Library Image


                   

                      

This afternoon President Kennedy,who was scheduled to be campaigning in the Midwest, was called back to Washington by the Attorney General who told him that he was needed to break a deadlock among his advisers.***


***Press Secretary Pierre Salinger announced JFK was returning to the White House because “(he)…has a cold…”


The deadlock appears to be between a decision to launch an air strike on Cuba or set up a naval blockade.


The air strike was proposed by National Security assistant to the President, McGeorge Bundy & is being supported by John McCone, CIA director & Douglas Dillon, Secretary of Treasury.


The blockade proposal is being advocated by McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Adlai Stevenson, UN Secretary & JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen.****


****When JFK entered the Oval Sitting Room on the 2nd floor of the mansion where his advisers had gathered, he said:


“Gentlemen, today we’re going to earn our pay. You should all hope that your plan isn’t the one that will be accepted.”

 

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