CUBA - 1962
In April 1961, the United States attempted to invade Cuba and
overthrow premier Fidel Castro. On the 17th of April about 1,300 CIA- trained
exiles armed with United States weapons landed at Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of
Pigs) on the southern coast of Cuba.
They hoped to gain support from the local populations, cross the island to
Havana, and overthrow Castro. However, they were quickly defeated by Castro's
army. The invasion by the CIA-backed exiles was spurred by the events that took
place after Castro took control of Cuba in January of 1959, Displeased with
Castro's successful military coup, the United States stopped buying Cuban sugar.
Castro responded in 1960 by taking over U.S. oil refineries and all U.S.
businesses in Cuba. This led President Kennedy to authorize the Bay of Pigs
invasion in 1961. US president John F. Kennedy, in meetings with Soviet leader
Nikita Khrushchev’s son-in-law Adzhubei in January 1962,
compared the US failure at the Bay of Pigs to the Soviet invasion of Hungary in
1956. JFK also assured Adzhubei that the US "will not meddle" with
Cuba, but at the same time, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing
"cover and deception plans" that included planned pretexts for a US
invasion of Cuba. The President’s brother, attorney general Robert F. Kennedy,
was simultaneously leading discussions with the CIA and Pentagon about covert
operations (codenamed Operation Mongoose) on the proposition that “a solution
to the current Cuban problem carried ‘the top priority in the United States
government….These proposals - part of a secret anti-Castro program known as
Operation Mongoose - included staging the assassinations of Cubans living in the
United States, developing a fake "Communist Cuban terror campaign in the
Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington," including
"sink[ing] a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),” faking a
Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner, and concocting a “Remember the
Maine” incident by blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters and then blaming the
incident on Cuban sabotage.
According to Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs, in May 1962 he conceived the idea of placing intermediate range missiles in Cuba as a means of countering an emerging lead of the United States in developing and deploying missiles. He also presented the scheme as a means of protecting Cuba from another United States sponsored invasion, such as the failed attempt at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.With Castro's approval, the Soviet Union began building secret missile bases in Cuba.
Tony Martinez, Operations Officer for all the flights out of McCoy was Sqdn Commander of the USAF U-2 Squadron based at Del Rio,TX at Laughlin AFB. The first Cuban overflight was flown by USAF U-2 pilot Capt Steve Heyser departing out of Edwards AFB, CA in a U-2C. Subsequently, ten other pilots from Laughlin flew the Cuban mission. An October 14, 1962 U-2 mission provided conclusive proof that the Soviet Union was deploying medium-range ballistic missiles to Cuba. On October 16, 1962, CIA analysts briefed President John F. Kennedy on what is probably the most famous overhead reconnaissance photograph of all time. The image - snapped from 70,000 feet by a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft - proved conclusively that the Soviet Union was installing medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba, touching off the most dangerous episode of the Cold War: The Cuban Missile Crisis.
On October 22, President Kennedy responded by televising an address stating the discovery of the weapons and that any attack coming from Cuba would be treated as an attack from the Soviet Union and would be treated accordingly. In addition, he imposed a naval blockade of Cuba to stop the construction of the sites.
On October 26, Khrushchev sent a letter to Kennedy suggesting that the sites would be dismantled if the United States gave its reassurance that it would not invade Cuba. Following up on this suggestion, on October 28, Khrushchev announced that the sites would be dismantled; as well as the removal of light bombers. The United States agreed and responded to the specific conditions of assurances for the United States not to invade Cuba. Worldwide, elements were diverted to support the U-2 flights over Cuba. Pilots flying out of Upper Heyford were brought back to the CONUS to fly U-2 missions over Cuba as the U.S. carefully monitored Soviet implementation of their promise to dismantle and remove all Soviet missiles from Cuba. Many of the pilots involved in the Cuban missile crisis later became known as "Roadrunners" because of their affiliation and participation in SR aircraft development flights at Groom Lake, Nevada. The following photos demonstrate the effectiveness of the CIA and Air Force surveillance planes and these future Roadrunners in exposing the aggression of the Soviet Union and Cuba that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
Click on images to enlarge
|The Heyser & Anderson U-2 Flights over Cuba|
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