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From the archives | Photo gallery

Cuban Missile Crisis, 50 years ago

October 27, 1962 / US Army antiaircraft rockets were mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in full view of the public at Key West, Florida. These rockets in position on a formerly public beach are viewed from automobiles driving along Roosevelt Boulevard. The rocket positions are manned day and night. Off-duty missilemen sleep in sleeping bags on the beach while other soldiers walk guard duty with rifles. “We’re trained to perfection and ready to go,” one soldier reported to newsmen.

Oct. 27, 1962 / US Army antiaircraft rockets were mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in full view of the public driving along Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West, Fla. The rocket positions were manned day and night. Off-duty missilemen slept in sleeping bags on the beach while other soldiers walked guard duty with rifles. “We’re trained to perfection and ready to go,” one soldier reported to newsmen.

The Cold War had never come closer to getting hot. Although proxy wars had been fought, and more would follow, the United States and the Soviet Union had avoided directly exchanging fire. The discovery of a secret missile base under construction in Cuba threatened to change that. Fifty years ago this week, the world waited while the two superpowers bluffed and negotiated, a nuclear holocaust growing perilously real. From October 14, 1962, when the missile base was discovered by aerial reconnaissance, until an agreement was announced thirteen days later, the tension mounted. Ultimately, the Soviet Union dismantled the bases and the US agreed not to invade Cuba. A secret agreement saw the US dismantle missiles in Turkey and Italy. - Leanne Burden and Lane Turner

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