The 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis
by Damon_Poirier
 MDJ Time Capsule
October 26, 2012 08:00 AM | 5110 views | 0 0 comments | 220 220 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Five decades ago, the world watched a showdown between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev during the height of the Cold War in what many feared might spark nuclear Armageddon.

The 13-day long affair came about after American spy planes discovered the Cuban and Soviet governments had been secretly building bases on Cuba for nuclear missiles with the ability to strike much of the continental U.S.

President Kennedy set up a military blockade of the island nation, announced that the U.S. would not permit the Soviets to deliver anymore weapons and ordered the removal of those all ready in place. Premier Khrushchev, however, balked at the demands.

In this extra appearance of Time Capsule, we take a day by day look at the local crisis-related coverage as the tensions between the two nations grew.

Tuesday, Oct. 23 …

The possibility that some Naval Reservists and Air National Guardsmen might be called to active duty was reported. But, spokesmen for both the Naval Air Station and the Air Reserve Dixie Wing said no local units had been alerted.

Civil Defense officials said that there was a mild spurt of interest in fallout shelter construction and evacuation procedures.

Howard Atherton, chairman of the Marietta City Council Civil Defense Committee, advised citizens to acquaint themselves with the dangers of nuclear fallout and how to safeguard against it. Literature on fallout shelters and other civil defense procedures were being made available to the public at the reception desk of the Marietta Police Department.

Wednesday, Oct. 24 …

CD offices reported many calls from residents inquiring about shelter facilities and what would be done with their children at school in an emergency.

Another story reported that there was no plan for mass evacuation of Cobb County in the event of an enemy attack alert. Probable use of missiles instead of manned bombers meant that the population would have very little advance warning if the enemy attacked.

Cobb CD Chief Norman Shipley was quoted as saying that the best plan for residents was to seek shelter in their homes and find the best spot to avoid radiation.

Thursday, Oct. 25 …

Seventh District Rep. John W. Davis said government briefs told him there was evidence that Cuba had not stopped building launching sites for medium-range missiles despite President Kennedy’s warning.

The congressman was one of many from nine southern states who attended a secret briefing in Atlanta. The briefing was conducted by Assistant Secretary of State Fred Dutton and Assistant Secretary of Defense David E. McGiffert.

At 9:20 a.m. that morning, an Air Force C137 jet landed at Dobbins Air Force Base and deposited Georgia Democrats Sen. Richard B. Russell and Rep. Carl Vinson back from crisis briefings in Washington. Both men reportedly left the base hurriedly.

Directors of the county’s five civil defense organizations were expected to meet that evening in order to plan for closer cooperation in light of the crisis.

Section chiefs of the Cobb County CD unit were reported to have met the night before to review their emergency plan. The session was held at the request of Adjutant General George Hearn, head of the state civil defense.

Friday, Oct. 26 …

Sandbagging operations began on a special emergency headquarters for the city of Marietta and Cobb County CD organizations. The location was in the underground basement of the Marietta city fire station at 500 Haynes Street. An extra telephone cable was laid giving it three telephone outlets. Three remote control radio positions were also to be added.

A full page ad published by the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce shared information about constructing family fallout shelters and included a shelter checklist for food/cooking equipment, supplies/equipment for sanitation and general shelter equipment.

Sunday, Oct. 28 …

A recommendation that a big underground water reservoir, safe from nuclear fallout and constructed inside Cobb, was put to the Cobb-Marietta Water Authority. The proposal asked if the tank could be built in conjunction with the new water purification plant that was being planned on Lake Allatoona.

Monday, Oct. 29 …

The 445th Troop Carrier Wing, with headquarters at Dobbins Air Force Base, was busy trying to get squared away after a call to active duty the day before. Many were asking whether the call would be canceled due to peaceful developments in the crisis, but spokesmen said there were no indications that the call-up would be canceled.

The Cobb CD council began recruiting block wardens – like the helmeted, flashlight carrying wardens of World War II. A spokesman said the wardens would be provided with CD information in an emergency and be responsible for disseminating that information within their districts.

A poll by the MDJ of several county residents on Russia’s backing down in the crisis said that they felt the crisis was not over.

Damon Poirier is the Newsroom Administrator for the Marietta Daily Journal.

If you are interested in learning more about the stories that were presented in this week’s column, you can search the newspaper’s digitized microfilm archives online. NewsBank, which hosts the archives for the Marietta Daily Journal, charges a fee for retrieved articles and has various price packages available. If you have any trouble with your username, password or payment options, please contact NewsBank at 

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