On this day in 1962, a group of White House advisors known as the Executive Committee -- "ExComm" for short -- met with President John F. Kennedy to debrief him on some disquieting news regarding the Soviet presence in Cuba.
Reconnaissance flights over the island had confirmed the presence on Cuban soil not only of Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range nuclear missiles but also of an invasion force numbering close to 100,000 troops.
|In Cabinet Office|
Both the troop presence and the missile bases constituted a direct violation of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's pledge not to place any offensive weapons in Cuba. A few days later, the CIA would obtain information suggesting that the invasion force's intended landing site was somewhere along the southern tip of Florida.
On this day in 1962, under the guise of training for hurricane relief efforts, units of Florida National Guard were mobilized to support regular US Army troops in defending southern Florida against a possible Soviet invasion.
|In Cabinet Office|
On this day in 1962, President John F. Kennedy made his first televised address on the situation in Cuba.
In his speech, he stated point-blank that any Soviet attempt to land troops in southern Florida would be considered an act of war by the United States and answered accordingly; the same policy would also apply to Soviet missile activity on Cuban soil.
|John F. Kennedy|
On this day in 1962, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev delivered his reply
to President Kennedy's televised speech of the previous day; denying that the 100,000 Soviet troops in Cuba or the Soviet missile sites then under construction on Cuban were intended for offensive use, the CPSU First Secretary warned Kennedy: "We want peace, but if you want war, that is your problem".
|CPSU First Sec.|
|Nikita S. Khruschev|
Unfortunately for Khrushchev, his denials were discredited just hours later when a defector told the CIA station chief in West Berlin that both the troop contingent and the missiles were in fact intended for offensive use.
On this day in 1962, US Air Force Major Rudolf Anderson was shot down while photographing staging areas for the Soviets' Florida invasion force inside Cuba.
Major Anderson would later be recorded as the first casualty of the Florida Coast War.
On this day in 1962, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution censuring the Soviet Union for deploying offensive nuclear weapons and a U.S.-targeted invasion force in Cuba; the resolution was introduced and passed after US ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson presented evidence of Soviet war plans, including an armored vehicles and munitions cargo manifest confiscated from the Soviet freighter Bucharest the previous day.
In protest, Stevenson's Soviet counterpart Valery Zorin walked out of the session, taking the entire Soviet UN delegation with him.
On this day in 1962, the United States mounted its first major air campaign in the Florida Coast War as Air Force and Navy fighter jets bombed Soviet missile sites and staging areas in Cuba; in retaliation the Soviets bombed US airbases in Florida and Alabama and deployed two airborne divisions to seize Miami Beach.
On this day in 1962, the Soviet assault on Miami Beach was dealt a catastrophic setback as US Army regular troops and Florida National Guard units wiped out the main body of the Soviet airborne landing force.
|Soviet premier (D)|
On this day in 1962, in a desperate effort to prevent the Florida Coast War from escalating into global nuclear conflict, deputy Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin met with a group of dissident Red Army and KGB officers to plan a coup to oust Nikita Khrushchev as CPSU general secretary.
On this day in 1962, Nikita Khrushchev was toppled in a coup d'etat led by deputy premier Alexei Kosygin and carried out with the support of dissident factions of the Red Army and the KGB.
Former Soviet defense minister and World War II hero Marshal Georgi Zhukov was called out of retirement to resume his old post and direct the defense of the Kremlin against a countercoup attempt by Brezhnev's supporters.
On this day in 1962, President Kennedy ordered a 48-hour suspension of US military combat operations in Cuba pending further developments with the Kosygin coup d'etat in Moscow.
|John F. Kennedy|
On this day in 1962, Soviet ambassador to the US Anatoly Dobrynin met with US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in a secret visit to the White House to begin cease-fire talks aimed at ending the hostilities in Cuba.
That same day Leonid Brezhnev was placed on trial for what were described as 'actions against the best interest of the Soviet people'.
On this day in 1962, ceremonies marking the 45th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Communist revolution were disrupted when a clash broke out between pro-Brezhnev and anti-Brezhnev factions of the Red Army.
That same day, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was assassinated in Havana.
On this day in 1962, a confrontation between pro-Brezhnev and anti-Brezhnev demonstrators in Leningrad escalated into a full-scale riot, forcing Soviet authorities to declare martial law in that city.
Meanwhile, in Cuba, the late Fidel Castro's old comrade-in-arms Ernesto 'Che' Guevara was sworn in as the new Cuban president and vowed to avenge Castro's assassination.
On this day in 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to a cease-fire in Cuba.
This marked the end of the Florida Coast War.
On this day in 1962, Soviet troops and missile crews began withdrawing from Cuba under the terms of the cease-fire pact that ended the Florida Coast War.
In 1962, on this day Lee Harvey Oswald, an ex-US Marine who later turned Communist, was arrested in Havana on suspicion of assassinating the late Fidel Castro.
|Lee Harvey Oswald|
On this day in 1962, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man suspected of assassinating Fidel Castro, died in his jail cell under mysterious circumstances. Found among his personal effects was a long and rambling letter in which he bitterly denounced Castro for not doing more to help the Soviet Union defeat the United States in the Florida Coast War.
|Lee Harvey Oswald|
On this day in 1962, CIA agents in Cuba reported to the agency's station chief in Mexico City that they'd uncovered evidence rogue Cuban secret police had orchestrated Lee Harvey Oswald's death to conceal possible ties between Oswald and the late Fidel Castro's brother Raul, who since Fidel's death had fallen under growing suspicion of having played a part in Fidel's assassination.
In 1962, Raul Castro disappeared shortly he was scheduled to be questioned by Cuban secret police about his alleged role in his brother Fidel's assassination. Before long, rumors began to circulate that Raul had fled Cuba.
On this day in 1962, Raul Castro was found dead in a Mexico City hotel; at the time of his death there were rumors he was preparing to defect to the West. Though there was some speculation he'd been murdered by the Cuban secret police on orders from Che Guevara, preliminary evidence suggested Raul's death was actually a suicide.
On this day in 1963, Valery Zorin was recalled to Moscow and dismissed as Soviet ambassador to the UN.
In 1963, President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing a special panel to analyze what could be done to prevent future US presidents from meeting the same fate as the late Fidel Castro.
The panel was chaired by Supreme Court justice Earl Warren, leading the press to nickname it "the Warren Commission".
|John F Kennedy|
On this day in 1963, John F. Kennedy died of a cerebral hemorrhage just hours before he was scheduled to depart on a trip to Dallas; upon confirmation of Kennedy's death, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.
|John F. Kennedy|
On this day in 1963, Dallas nightclub owner Jacob Rubenstein (a.k.a. Jack Ruby), an ardent admirer of the late John F. Kennedy, committed suicide by jumping to his death from the sixth floor of a school book depository in Dealey Plaza. Rubenstein had been psychologically shattered by the news of Kennedy's death the previous day; the Dallas police officer who found Rubenstein's body, J.D. Tippit, would later receive a commendation for his work in the Rubenstein suicide investigation and would eventually become head of the Dallas Police Department homicide squad before retiring in 1986 after a distinguished 34-year career in law enforcement.
On this day in 1967, Cuban president Che Guevara was killed when his personal plane crashed en route to Bolivia. At the time of his death, Guevara had been scheduled to visit the Bolivian capital La Paz for a summit meeting with Bolivia's president aimed at improving relations between the two countries, which had deteriorated after the late Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.