50th anniversary of U.S.-Russian standoff is this month

Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 05:43 PM.

To that end, Navy and Marine photo reconnaissance planes were used to photograph the suspected missile sites.

The Cherry Point-based VMCJ-2 squadron was called to send four RF-8A Crusader jets to join VFP-62, based in Jacksonville, Fla., for Operation Blue Moon.

"The entire squadron was committed," said Whitten, who estimated that about 150 personnel joined pilots to keep the planes operating.

The Navy and Marine Corps units joined together at Key West, Fla., to outfit their planes with panoramic cameras equipped with motion compensation technology necessary for high-speed, low-level photo reconnaissance missions over Cuba.

The first Blue Moon photo missions started on Oct. 23, the day after Kennedy’s television address to the nation informing Americans of the crisis. Crusaders flew over the suspected island missile sites and then on to Jacksonville, Fla., where the film was processed and rushed to Washington for analysis.

Whitten writes that the photos delivered bad news in that they showed launching erectors in place and missiles stored nearby, details captured by the aircraft’s new KA-45 forward firing camera.

"It was the KA-45s that really made the day because they gave really clear shots from a low level," Whitten said. "Everybody could see with the naked eye. You didn’t have to have an interpreter to see those big missiles."

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