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

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

"The Wing was very critical to the success of that planned invasion," Whitten said. "They were all down there fully expecting to start strike operations against the nuclear missiles, and the surface-to-air missiles and everything else in preparation for an actual landing."

He said many aircraft left Cherry Point in response to the crisis.

"It was like a ghost town around here," he said. "Every asset in the wing was committed, if not in Key West but somewhere. Their anticipated role was to be part of the strike force covering the Marines and Army landings that everybody was sure to come. That was certainly the expectations.

"Everybody and everything at Cherry Point went south to participate. It was one of the few times in history I would suspect, outside of a real hurricane, that every aircraft that was flyable and operable went somewhere."

Havelock residents certainly noticed the participation of Marine Air Group 14 in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"I remember how tight the security was," said Jimmy Sanders, currently Havelock’s mayor but a high school student in 1962. "Civilians were not allowed on base. If you didn’t have a military ID or a dependent ID card or an employee card, you weren’t allowed on base."

He said virtually every type of cargo plane was flying in and out of Cherry Point at the time.

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