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Air Force Missile Crews Went On “Maximum Alert” During Cuban Crisis

Nov. 29, 1962 - Air Force missile crews were put on “maximum” alert in the Cuban crisis, the Pentagon disclosed today. The Defense Department released an official summary of the heretofore secret military precautions that were taken in the tense October days after President Kennedy had ordered an arms blockade of Cuba. In his speech Oct. 22 (pictured) after it had been confirmed that the Russians had installed offensive missiles in Cuba, the President warned: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” Presumably, the American nuclear weapons placed on maximum alert were aimed at the Soviet Union. The United States has 156 intercontinental ballistic missiles in operational status in the western part of the nation. These include 102 Atlas missiles and 54 Titan I missiles, with flight ranges of at least 6,300 miles.

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