In April 1961, the CIA launched what its leaders believed would be the definitive strike: a full-scale invasion of Cuba to remove Castro by 1,400 American-trained Cubans who had fled their homes when Castro took over. I would assume you know how that turned out.
|Bay of Pigs|
What I wanted to get at is the "Cuban Missile Crisis" in 1962. In July 1962 Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev reached a secret agreement with Cuban premier Fidel Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt. Didn't sit well with President Kennedy. On October 22, he ordered a naval “quarantine” of Cuba. The use of “quarantine” legally distinguished this action from a blockade, which assumed a state of war existed.
In South Florida and in Cuba, the missile crisis put millions of people on what seemed like the front lines. At bases in the Everglades, Carol City and west of Kendall, missiles were raised to the go position and tilted in the direction of Fidel Castro's island. There, the Kennedy Administration had learned from spy plane reconnaissance, the Soviet Union was building what looked like an offensive missile base near San Cristobal.
In south Miami-Dade County, thousands of Army troops moved to and from encampments that sprang up in tomato fields and cow pastures. Portable Hawk anti-aircraft missiles were set up along beaches from Miami Beach to Key West.
|How would you like this on your beach?|
We would stand by Federal Highway (Highway 1) and watch truck after truck of soldiers heading South. There were machine guns, barbed wire, and soldiers on the beach. It was two months after my 16th birthday. The country was facing Nuclear Armageddon and we were smack in the middle of it.
|Looked like this all over the place.|