Omaha, Nebraska (JFK+50) Fifty-two years ago today, October 24, 1962, General Thomas Power of the Strategic Air Command, headquartered here in Omaha, ordered his forces to DEFCON-2, one step from "imminent nuclear war". The General also broadcast an alert message on non-scrambled, open radio channels.
DEFCON-2 is the highest alert level ever ordered by the United States military. On September 11, 2001, the United States armed forces were ordered to Defcon-3 or medium military readiness.
General Thomas Power
CHART OF DEFCON RATINGS
DEFCON 5 Lowest military readiness
DEFCON 4 Increased intelligence watch
DEFCON 3 Medium military readiness
DEFCON 2 War readiness
DEFCON 1 Nuclear war imminent
"WE STOOD EYEBALL TO EYEBALL"
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-two years ago today, October 24, 1962, began the ninth day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the world has come to nuclear war.
The Executive Committee of the National Security Council met at 10 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.
The meeting began with CIA Director John McCone reporting that 22 Soviet ships were heading for the Quarantine Line 500 miles east of Cuba.
When John McCone broke the news that six Soviet ships had "either stopped or reversed direction," Secretary of State Dean Rusk said:
"We stood eyeball to eyeball and the other fellow just blinked."*
Navy P-2H Neptune
"You don't want to celebrate in the game this early."
Dobbs says that historians "failed to use these records to plot the actual positions of Soviet ships on the morning of Wednesday, October 24, 1962."
Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight, 2008.
James M. Lindsay, TWE Remembers, 10/24/2012.