President John F. Kennedy believed that the CIA orchestrated the disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Communist Cuba, in order to force him to attack the island nation with American arms. The CIA had assured him that would not be necessary. Feeling betrayed, he shouldered public blame for the debacle—weeping privately to his wife at the loss of freedom fighters’ lives—but refused to attack.
This hatched an enduring enmity between himself and what 21st-century Americans would refer to as the “Deep State” of entrenched, non-partisan government officials. Here, it included the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and unknown others.
“I intend to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds,” JFK thundered to close aids. He appeared deadly serious with this extraordinary declaration. Fatefully, he forced the top three CIA officials to resign, including Assistant Chief and General Charles Cabell.
A year later, the U.S. caught the Soviets “Red-handed” as they snuck nuclear weapons into Cuba. The dramatic Cuban Missile Crisis ensued. So volatile was the internal situation in the U.S. government over these events, that Kennedy and Joint Chiefs Chairman Curtis LeMay squared off in the Oval Office itself. LeMay tried to intimidate the President into launching a nuclear attack on Cuba and the Soviet weapons there.
As these chilling days passed—13 of them—Oklahomans closely monitored the news, prayed, and stocked up on food and other supplies. Oklahoma schoolchildren grew acquainted with nuclear fallout drills. These included, pursuant to an attack with some warning, evacuation to the school basement. For an attack with little or no warning, the only practice was taking cover under their school desks. These drills would continue intermittently for years.
Fortunately, decorated World War II combat veteran JFK was not cowed by LeMay. With the U.S. and Russia on the literal brink of nuclear war, Kennedy and his advisors—some of them, at least—kept their cool and maneuvered the Russians into removing their nukes from Cuba. It was a diplomatic and foreign policy victory of the highest magnitude, over the toughest imaginable opponent, with the entire world watching.
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.