Monday, October 28, 2013



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 51 years ago today, October 28, 1962, was the 13th and final day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the world has come to nuclear war.

Radio Moscow transmitted a message from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announcing the decision which would end the crisis.

The announcement, which began at 9 a.m. Eastern time, was made by Yuri Levitan who said:

"In order to eliminate...the conflict which endangers the cause of peace...the Soviet government...has given a new order to dismantle the weapons (in Cuba)...and to crate and return them to the Soviet Union."

Premier Khrushchev said, later in the message, that he was assured by President John F. Kennedy's  letter of October 27, 1962, that the United States would not invade Cuba.

The message concluded...

"We are confident that reason will triumph, that war will not be unleashed and peace and the security of the peoples will be insured."*

JFK called the Soviet decision "statesmanlike."

The President said to Dave Powers...

"I feel like a new man now.  Do you realize we had an air strike all arranged?  Thank God, it's all over."

While most EXCOM members were pleased with the resolution of the crisis, the Joint Chiefs were not.  General Curtis LeMay called it...

"The worst defeat in our history."**

Press Secretary Pierre Salinger later recalled...

"It was not a case of 'We won; they lost.'  That was Kennedy's strong point from the minute the crisis came to an end.  

He called me in and said...

'This is not our victory; this is a joint victory of the two nations; we did it together.  Don't let anybody go out and say this was America's victory."

Newsman Tom Wicker, on the other hand, said...

"As far as public perceptions in this country were concerned, it was generally viewed that bold, brave John F. Kennedy had faced (the Soviets) down. 

Certainly by the time of his death, (JFK) was still regarded as victor of the missile crisis."

*The decision had been presented earlier to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.  Khrushchev told them that there was a..."danger of war and nuclear catastrophe, with the possibility of destruction of the human race.  To save the world, we must retreat."

**General Maxwell Taylor told JFK the afternoon before Radio Moscow's broadcast that the Joint Chiefs were calling for massive air strikes by the morning of October 29th "unless there is evidence...that the weapons are being dismantled."


"'Let Us Begin Anew,'  An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency," by Gerald S. and Deborah H. Strober, Harper and Collins Publishers, New York, 1993.

"One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro On the Brink of Nuclear War," by Michael Dobbs, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008.