WASHINGTON — Buddy Brown was supposed to fly a mission over Cuba that day. It was called off.
The flight of his friend and fellow U-2 pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson Jr., was not. So as Brown went golfing with other fliers, his eyes frequently scanned the skies.
“I kept looking up from the course because we knew what time Andy was expected to return,” Brown, now 83 and a retired colonel, recalled this week, using the nickname Anderson’s fellow pilots had for him. “I remember saying, ‘I wonder where Andy is?’ ”
Fifty years after the Cuban missile crisis pushed the Soviet Union and United States to the brink of nuclear war, many of the key players are well known: the cool-headed President John F. Kennedy who faced down his hawkish generals; the seemingly diplomatic and then recalcitrant Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev; the dealmaking US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy whose back-channel negotiations ultimately led to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
A largely forgotten hero was the 35-year-old Anderson, who snapped some of the most definitive spy photos over Cuba before he was killed 50 years ago Saturday when a Soviet commander ordered a battery to fire on his plane high over Banes in eastern Cuba. Anderson was the only military casualty of the crisis.
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