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.**
*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.
**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/