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.”*
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.