World Crises Build in September 1962

September, 1962, was an intense month around the world, politically and militarily. Major issues dominated newspaper headlines. Among them were the Soviet Union’s involvement with Cuba (leading to the Cuban missile crisis), continuing tensions around the Berlin Wall, and the domestic desegregation showdown in Mississippi. That came with the enrollment of James Meredith, at the strictly segregated University of Mississippi. On the global front, threats of the use of nuclear power as a means of enforcing demands were thrown about freely by both sides of the Iron Curtain, the United States and the Soviet Union. Military power was a final threat for the enforcement of domestic desegregation orders on the domestic front.

This article is an attempt to put the world of the day in perspective. You can imagine the pressures of the near call-up of reserves, the needs for an urgent military buildup in Germany and how they dominated the news media. There wasn’t much space for other news such as a “routine” air crash at sea.

What follows is a tightly edited version of the news of the day.

Sunday, September 1, 1962

The Soviet Union made an unsuccessful attempt to launch a space vehicle toward the planet Venus last Saturday, according to United States sources.

The White House announced that a United States Navy plane, flying a training mission fifteen miles off the Cuban coast, had been fired on by two naval vessels believed to be Cuban. Washington warned of a counter-attack.

Near Albany, Georgia, volleys of rifle fire poured into four homes of Negroes involved in a voter registration campaign.

Reporting threats of violence, church officials closed the first Roman Catholic school to be desegregated in Louisiana.

Monday, September 2, 1962

President Kennedy replied softly to Republican charges that his administration had done “little or nothing” to make the world aware of the Communist “wall of shame” across Berlin. Mr. Kennedy set forth in detail what the United States Information Agency had done “to insure world-wide understanding” of the meaning of the wall.

West German Chancellor Willy Brant declared: “It is an unsatisfactory state of affairs that the West does nothing but wait for Khrushchev’s moves.”

Tuesday, September 3, 1962

The Soviet Union announced last night an agreement to provide Cuba with arms and military advisers. Soviet economic and industrial aid was also included in the accord. Soviet-bloc equipment has become the logistical backbone of the Cuban armed forces.

In an apparent effort to decrease the Soviet presence in West Berlin, the Western powers told the Russians to stop bringing relief guards for the Soviet war memorial through

Checkpoint Charlie.

For five and a half hours the skies over the United States and Canada were the exclusive domain of about 1,600 bombers and fighter aircraft. It was the third annual staging of Operation Sky Shield, a huge exercise to test continental air defenses.

Wednesday, September 4, 1962

The West prepared to enforce its order that Soviet convoys travel through the British, rather than the American, sector of Berlin to reach the Soviet war memorial.

Roman Catholic schools around New Orleans were to open today in the South’s first major parochial school integration.

Thursday, September 5, 1962

President Kennedy warned yesterday that the United States would use “whatever means may be necessary” to prevent Cuban aggression anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

The Havana press praised Moscow’s aid as a step toward socialist plenty and simultaneously reported that shoe and clothes rationing was being studied.

The Kremlin charged that another American U-2 had flow over Soviet territory (Sakhalin Island) last Friday night.

Washington admitted that Soviet airspace may have been “unintentionally” violated. It said the ban on reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union still stood.

Soviet troops bowed to an Allied order by passing through British, rather than American checkpoints to and from the Soviet War memorial in West Berlin. The Russians sent up fighter planes to harass three Western airliners over the city.

Friday, September 6, 1962

In new notes to the United States, Britain and France, Moscow declared that the Berlin problem “is not a question of discussing incidents or consulting.” Instead, the Russians declared, it is time for the Western powers to sign a German peace treaty on Soviet terms and withdraw from Berlin.

The Kremlin termed the U.S. explanation of the off-course U-2 plane a clumsy subterfuge.

Night riders fired three shotgun blasts into a house in Dawson, Georgia, where seven voter registration workers were staying.

The second day of parochial school desegregation in New Orleans area was marred by angry demonstrations.

[Note: the highlights of September 6 have been tightly edited. There were many of headline-grabbling events going on that day.]

Saturday, September 7, 1962

The State Department confirmed reports that Soviet troops opened fire Tuesday on an American military vehicle on a routine mission in East Germany. None of the occupants were injured.

Soviet military personnel in Cuba are said to be organized in compact, self-sufficient units with their own transport, supplies and weapons. Clad in civilian sports clothes or khaki fatigues without insignia, about 4,000 Communist-bloc soldiers perform the functions of “service troops” and individual advisors to Cuban military units.

Udall has “friendly” talk with Khrushchev.

Sunday, September 8, 1962

On the last day of a six-nation goodwill tour, Vice President Lindon Johnson had a forty-minute private audience with Pope John. The talk ranged over many problems, including school desegregation.

Udall reported that the Soviet leader had challenged the United States to a race in power-resources development.

President Kennedy asked Congress for stand-by authority to order 150,000 reservists to active duty for a year because of the critical world situation. His request was made against a background of rising Republican criticism of him for not taking measures to counteract the Soviet arms build-up in Cuba.

Republican Congressional leaders, in fact, proposed that Congress authorize the President to use United States troops if necessary to defeat the menace of Cuban communism.

U.S. set at U.N. to counter Soviet on U-2.

Monday, September 9, 1962

The Western powers are considering asking the Russians to transport their guards to the Soviet war memorial in West Berlin by bus instead of armored vehicle. An allied Spokesman said yesterday there was no valid reason for the continued use of the armored cars.

Speedy congressional action is assured on President Kennedy’s request for stand-by authority to call up 150,000 reservists for a year if the world situation warrants it. Administration spokesmen said Mr. Kennedy had no plans to invoke such authority now.

Russians seen in Cuba near U.S. naval base.

Tuesday, September 10, 1962

Cuban exile leaders are urging the United States to allow them to launch large-scale subversive activities from this country (the US) to overthrow the Castro Government. The exiles call such a policy “the most sensible solution” to counter the presence of Soviet military personnel in Cuba.

Two negro churches in the Sasser, Georgia area, one of them the scene of weekly voter registration rallies, were destroyed by fire. F.B.I. agents examining the ruins of one church were pummeled by a white man.

Secretary Keating opposes “horse trade” over Cuba.

Wednesday, September 11, 1962

Soviet Union said in the United Nations that there could be no international cooperation in outer space without first agreeing on the basic legal principles governing its use.

President Kennedy’s request for stand-by authority to mobilize military reservists got speedy approval in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Secretary Dodd calls on U.S. to curb Cuba now.

Thursday, September 12, 1962

The Soviet Union warned yesterday that a United States attack on Cuba or upon Soviet ships bound for the island might set-off a nuclear war. The official statement accused President Kennedy of preparing for “an act of aggression” against Cuba when he asked Congress for authority to order 150,000 reservists to active duty.

A broadcast from Havana charged that a “pirate vessel” had entered a Cuban harbor and had fired on a British freighter carrying sugar and a Cuban ship loaded with molasses. An anti-Castro group in Miami said the raid had been carried out by refugees.

Friday, September 13, 1962

A Cuban Air Force pilot, who defected to this country last week, said that more than 200 MIG jet fighters have been given to Cuba by the Soviet Union.

In Europe: Russians are ready to comply with an Allied request to use buses rather than armored vehicles to bring their guards to the Soviet War Memorial in West Berlin.

A special satellite designed to study the unexpected radiation zone created in space by an American high-altitude nuclear explosion in July is being prepared by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Saturday, September 14, 1962

Mr. Kennedy deplored “loose talk” in this country that gave “a thin color of legitimacy to the Communist pretense that such a threat to invade Cuba exists.”

A leader of the anti-Castro group, which machine gunned three ships in Cuban waters Monday, said five more strikes were being planned.

The burning of two Negro churches in Georgia last Sunday provoked President Kennedy to issue a strong denunciation. He pledged that all citizens who wanted to vote would be protected by force and additional legislation, if necessary.

Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett defies integration at the University of Mississippi.

Sunday, September 15, 1962

The President’s handling of the Cuban issue was sharply assailed by Senator Barry Goldwater as a “do nothing” policy. Mr. Kennedy has virtually promised the Communists that the United States “will take no action to removed the threat of Soviet armed might in the Western Hemisphere”.

A 14-pound steel object that fell in Wisconsin was exhibited at the United Nations by the United States which said it was probably a fragment from the Soviet satellite Sputnik IV. This is tangible evidence of the need for early consideration of practical problems of space law.

Monday, September 16, 1962

The United States has had little success thus far in efforts to persuade its Allies to do less business with Cuba and to withhold ships now being chartered for Soviet shipments to Cuba.

Two Soviet citizens who had been employed by the United Nations were dismissed by the U.N. after Washington reported their “illegitimate intelligence activities”.

Tuesday, September 17, 1962

The exodus of East Germans to the West has dwindled to a comparative trickle since the Communists erected the Berlin wall in August of last year.

The Americanization of Saigon has increased markedly in the last year with the arrival of thousands of American troops to aid the South Vietnamese fight against Communist guerrillas.

Trustees of the University of Mississippi will chose today between compliance with Federal Court desegregation orders and the defiance urged by Governor Barnett. The controversy over the entry of James Meredith threatens a serious conflict between state and Federal power.

Wednesday, September 18, 1962

Moscow revived its demand for changes in the United Nations structure. Reorganization of the Secretariat urged on the so-called “troika” principle – under which representatives of the Western, Communist and neutral groupings would share the U.N. administration.

The Soviet Union rejected the Western view that it had no right to abolish the office of Soviet Commandant in East Berlin and charged that the three allied commanders in West Berlin represented NATO (a single entity).

The Washington Post published – and denied – the widely circulated rumor that President Kennedy was once secretly married.

The U.N. delegates convened yesterday at the opening of the 17th session of the General Assembly. It is expected that this session will be long and complicated by Soviet demands for U.N. structural changes.

Thursday, September 20, 1962

In Germany, the Russians held up for more than three hours a United States Army troop convoy bound for Berlin. An Army spokesman said there had been “a misunderstanding on procedure,” which is believed to involve the Russians’ asserted right to count the soldiers outside their vehicles.

The Air Force and Navy, seemingly blocked in the Pentagon, went to Congress to urge development of a nuclear ramjet missile as a potential intercontinental weapon of the next decade. Air Force officials said the nuclear missile, with its global range, could provide a counter-measure to Soviet development of a defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Friday, September 21, 1962

A stronger United Nations was urged by the United States, which described the world as a “powder keg.” A United States policy statement before the General Assembly was delivered by Adlai E. Stevenson, who warned that the Assembly must provide the money for peacekeeping machinery or “doom our organization to impotence.”

A resolution endorsing the use of arms, if necessary, to prevent Cuban aggression or subversion passed in the Senate, 86 to 1, after three hours of debate. The house is expected to adopt the resolution today.

Saturday, September 22, 1962

The Soviet Union issued a new warning that any United States attack on Cuba would precipitate a nuclear war. The threat was made by Foreign Minister Gromyko in a tough and uncompromising policy statement to the United Nations General Assembly.

Kennedy says Soviet aid dooms Castro.

Sunday, September 23, 1962

The pentagon is considering increases in the regular armed forces to avoid future emergency calls on the military reserves. This possibility was mentioned in House testimony by Secretary of Defense McNamara, who said that in some ways the world situation was more critical today than at any time since the Korean war.

The Soviet Government protested the confiscation by Puerto Rican authorities of a shipment of Cuban sugar bound for the Soviet Union. The protest demanded release of the shipment and compensation for damages.

President Kennedy praises the stand of Berlin people.

Flying Tiger Line Flight 923, from Maguire Air Force base in New Jersey to Frankfort, Germany, loses three engines and ditches in the stormy North Atlantic ocean with 78 persons aboard. Twenty eight persons died and 48 survived. Most were military personnel, including about 30 brand new, trained, combat paratroopers headed for urgent assignment in Germany.

Monday, September 24, 1962

British reluctance to place a total embargo on trade with Cuba was among a large number of issues that were discussed in New York by Secretary of State Rusk and Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the Earl of Home.

The Soviet Communist party has warned revolutionaries in Asia, Africa and Latin America against “undue haste” in seeking to transform their countries into Communist states. Moscow’s warning appeared to be opposed to the more militant tactics favored by Communist China.

On Capitol Hill this week, the Administration will work to restore at least half of the foreign aid funds cut by the House last week. President Kennedy renewed his appeal for a stronger foreign aid program by declaring that “this way we can defeat Communism.”

Tuesday, September 25, 1962

Secretary of State Rusk met yesterday with the Norwegian Foreign Minister in an effort cooperation in blocking shipments of strategic good to Cuba. They conferred in New York where Mr. Rjusk has been making similar appeals to other allied diplomats. Italy and West Germany were said to be responding more favorably than Britain and Scandinavia.

The University of Mississippi’s trustees bowed to a Federal court and agreed to admit a Negro, James H. Meredith, by 4 p.m. today. The decision was announced after the eight-judge court told the trustees that they had willfully violated its order to admit Mr. Meredith when they turned the matter over to Governor Barnett. Mt. Barnett had then rejected the Negro’s application. Earlier yesterday, the Governor ordered the jailing of any Federal official who tried to arrest state officers for defying desegregation orders.

The House passed and sent to the White House the specially limited Reserve mobilization powers that President Kennedy had requested. The bill enables him to call up to 150,000 ready reservists and extend the active duty of servicemen, if he finds it necessary.

Wednesday, September 26, 1962

The Western Big Three spoke with a single voice yesterday in branding the Soviet Union “unreasonable” for refusing to discuss Berlin. In identical notes to Moscow, the allied accused the Kremlin of seeking to maintain tensions in Berlin and of responsibility for the “wall which divides the city and the brutality of the East German regime toward its inhabitants.”

Washington was prepared to send airborne troops to enforce the Federal court’s order specifically barring the Governor from interfering with James H. Meredith’s court ordered admission. Mr. Barnett, vowing to go to jail rather than allow the Negro’s enrollment, had commanded hundreds of state troopers to resist Federal authorities.

The Governor openly defied the court’s non-interference edict by personally preventing Mr. Meredith from registering. For this, the court cited him for contempt and summoned him to a New Orleans hearing Friday morning.

Thursday, September 27, 1962

The United States has agreed to sell short-range defensive Hawk missiles o Israel. State Department officials said that the new policy was designed to offset the offensive weapons recently furnished by the Communist bloc to Israel’s Arab neighbors and to try to maintain a balance of power in the Middle East.

Ways to guard against Cuban-based aggression and subversion were discussed in New York by Secretary of State Rusk and foreign ministers of the Latin-American nations. One proposal is to establish a Caribbean military organization.

For the third time, Gov. Ross R Barnett and his aides flouted Federal court orders to desegregate the University of Mississippi. A chief Federal marshal tried to shoulder his way through 20 Mississippi patrolmen and scuffled repeatedly with Lieut. Gov. Paul B. Johnson. But the marshal’s efforts to enroll James H. Meredith at ole Miss were in vain and Mr. Meredith was flown back to Memphis.

A Federal marshal who tried to deliver the contempt citation to Governor Barnett’s office in Jackson was thwarted by Mississippi patrolmen. They stood in front of the locked office, blocking the mail slot.

Attorney General Kennedy reiterated that the Federal Government would do “whatever is necessary” to carry out the court desegregation orders. Officials have made it clear that they are prepared to use troops in Mississippi if necessary.

Friday, September 28, 1962

Turkey has responded to United States efforts to halt Soviet-bloc shipments to Cuba by announcing a suspension of all shipping to Cuba in Turkish vessels.

Defying Federal authority, Gov. Ross R. Barnett ringed the University of Mississippi campus with 200 club-carrying policemen. The Governor’s move caused the Justice Department to abandon a fourth attempt to register James Meredith at the University. The department said that Mr. Meredith and his escort of 25 deputy Federal marshals had turned back to Memphis to prevent “major violence and bloodshed.” The department ordered “several hundred” more marshals to Memphis to make another attempt today to carry out the desegregation orders of the federal courts. Attorney General Kennedy conferred with high Army officials about plans to move in troops if necessary.

Saturday, September 29, 1962

Within hours after returning to Washington yesterday from a two-day inspection trip to Germany, Secretary of Defense McNamara hurriedly held a news conference. He solemnly warned that the United States was ready to use nuclear arms to protect its vital interests in Berlin. His statement was apparently intended to erase any doubts that Washington would hesitate to use force in a Berlin showdown.

Sunday, September 30, 1962

The increasingly tense situation in Berlin and other international issues will be discussed by President Kennedy and top United States and British officials. The President’s luncheon guests will be Secretary of State Rusk; David Bruce, the United States Ambassador in London; Lord Home, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, and Sir David Ormsby-Gore, the British Ambassador.

The United States demanded the recall of two members of the Soviet delegation to the United Nations for taking part in an espionage conspiracy with an American sailor. The 33-year-old American sailor was charged with treason.

About Fred Caruso

Survivor of the crash of Flying Tiger 923. at night, at sea, 500 miles off the west coast of Ireland, with 28 deaths and 48 survivors, September 23, 1962.
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2 Responses to World Crises Build in September 1962

  1. Patricia Leonard says:

    Oh my. Your latest post brought it all back, Fred. Desegregation. Integration. Berlin. Cuba. The threat of nuclear arms. Fear – ever present. And Flying Tiger #923 down.

  2. It’s eery to read about 1962 in the context of the new cold war, troubles with Russia, a plane down at sea, etc.

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