Remembering the Cuban Missile Crisis


US Air Force Col. Charles G. Simpson remembers the Cuban Missile, in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist:

We kept our nine missiles ready and watched and listened to the news, waiting to see what the resolution of this crisis would be. The base was a different world — most of the families of the bomber and tanker crews left, either heading home to parents or friends or packing up campers and driving into the Idaho mountains. For the most part, only families of the missile squadron and base security and support units remained.

My wife, Carol, was about eight months pregnant and stayed close to our home during the crisis. Since my one-person position was augmented by two other officers during the crisis, I went home every night to rest for the next day. Still, while I was working, my wife had to deal with some serious problems during the crisis. For example, the military doctor who lived above us became distraught; my wife heard strange noises in his apartment, went to investigate, and found him threatening to kill himself by jumping off the balcony. She contacted the hospital commander and the security police, who quickly responded and took care of the situation.

And retired Col. Valery Yarynich, of the Soviet armed forces:

The escalation of the crisis in relations between the United States and Soviet Union in October 1962 had a most direct impact on the lives of the staff officers for the Kirov rocket corps, named after the city nearest its bases in the Ural Mountains. On October 23, I received orders to go to one of the two divisions of our corps in which intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) of the 8K64 type — SS-7 in American terminology — had recently been put on combat duty. Each of these missiles could deliver a nuclear warhead with an explosive yield of three megatons a distance of 8,100 miles. They were the first strategic missiles with which Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev could threaten America. Of course, the Soviet Union was not yet making ​​ICBMs like sausages, which would become the case as the Cold War continued, but there were enough at the time — 25 in two divisions — to create a new Armageddon. On this trip, I had a specific task: I was to take all possible measures to ensure that the division received its orders from Moscow, and, if necessary, launched its missiles in a timely fashion. As a representative of the rocket corps staff, I was endowed with adequate powers for this purpose.