Bay of Pigs- American Invasion
To understand the Cuban Missile Crisis, one most first understand the Bay of Pigs; the Bay of Pigs was an invasion of Cuba made by the United States of America. It came about when the Cuban government had been taken over by a man named Fidel Castro on January 1st, 1959. This man took down the current dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The Americans were nervous regarding Cuba since the overthrown dictator was pro-American. He allowed Americans to grow crops on his island. Fidel Castro had no plans of allowing the people of the United States to use his land. Fidel Castro created Communist Cuba. JFK was afraid of an economical drop and other consequences, so he attempted to win the land back. He planned a small invasion of Cuba in 1961 that was expected to be easily successful; however, the US army was busy in Vietnam, so the invasion failed. It was one of the worst losses in American history, and it was viewed by the Russians as a weakness. Two years later, Russia decided they wanted to "protect" the newly Communist country by installing nuclear weapons. It was later discovered to be an excuse for nuclear advantages. Meanwhile in the United States, the president was worrying about the installment of nuclear weapons only 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
In October of 1962, the Cold War reached its most tense time, named the Cuban Missile Crisis. The United States, which had a geographical advantage over Russia for about 15 years, was now being overly-pressured by Russia for these 13 days. With the Soviet Union's newly-installed missiles in Communist Cuba, they could have the almost all of the United States in nuclear fallout within a minute. On October 16th, President Kennedy was still attempting to find a diplomatic solution. As a precaution, the United States for the first time in history went to DEFCON 2.
When President Kennedy gave up on his nuclear diplomacy, he went on the offensive saying he would attack Russia with a barrage of missiles if Khrushchev didn't remove his atomic bombs. The Soviet leader refused, and the United States prepared for nuclear war. People hoarded food and gas to have after the nuclear disaster. To prevent Russia from loading any more nukes, the USA navy surrounded Cuba. They remained there until October 27th. This day marked an American spy plane flying over Cuba. The Russians brushed it off until the plane had been flying for an hour. A Russian general ordered its destruction; the plane was shot down. JFK took this as an offensive strike to start WWIII and stated that they fired first. After the preparation for a nuclear attack, JFK got the sense that Khrushchev didn't permit the attack. JFK had a diplomatic conversation with the Soviet Union's dictator discussing the Cold War's inability to be controlled. They decided it would go nowhere and called it off. The one man flying over Cuba very possibly saved tens of millions of lives.
Cold War Close Calls
The U-2 Spy Plane Incident
An American man by the name of Charles Maultsby was asked to study the Arctic Circle. He used the stars to navigate, but his view was obstructed by an aurora borealis. He wandered into Soviet land while trying to find his way home. The Soviets thought it was an American missile carrier, so they loaded up their Air Force to launch an assault. Luckily, Soviet leader Khrushchev knew the Americans were smarter than launching one missile opposed to hundreds. He alerted his people, and the crisis was ended.
B-59 Submarine Accident
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, a Soviet submarine was submerged in American waters. The USA's SONARs detected it, and deployed warning depth charges. However, the Soviet people on the submarine thought it was the start of a nuclear war. They loaded up its only nuclear torpedo, and they took the approval poll. All three officers had to allow the attack, but only two did. Thanks to Vasili Arkhipov, there was never a WWIII. He was later honored for being the prevention force of another World War.