Cuban Missile Crisis Timeline
Timeline Description: The Cuban Missile Crisis is a time when the United States and the Soviet Union almost had a nuclear war. When the U.S. discovered offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba, it started a tense period of 13 days while the world watched to see if the Soviets would remove the missiles, just 90 miles from the U.S.

Date Event
October 15, 1962 A U2 spyplane discovers missiles in Cuba.

Air Force Pilot Richard Heyser flies a spyplane over Cuba and takes photos of Russian medium-range missiles. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev has asked Cuba President Fidel Castro if he could put them there in May.
October 16, 1962 Ex-Comm has its first meeting.

Ex-Comm, a group of American political leaders, meets for the first time to discuss the Soviet missiles. Ex-Comm would meet several times throughout the crisis and the members rarely agreed on what to do.
October 17, 1962 Photos show evidence of long-range missiles.

More photos of the missile sites are analyzed and show that Cuba also has long-range Soviet missiles. These missiles are capable of traveling 2,200 miles.
October 18, 1962 Robert Kennedy meets with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy keeps a previously scheduled meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, but does not mention the missiles. Gromyko tells Kennedy that the only help the Soviet Union is giving to Cuba is assistance growing crops and missiles that are only for defense.
October 19, 1962 Ex-Comm suggests quarantining Cuba.

Ex-Comm meets and discusses sending U.S. ships to Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from reaching the island. They are careful to call it a quarantine because a blockade is an act of war.
October 20, 1962 Robert Kennedy gives Ex-Comm's recommendation to the president.

After meeting all day the previous day, Robert Kennedy tells the president that Ex-Comm recommends a quarantine. President Kennedy was in Chicago, but lies about having a cold so that he can return to Washington to deal with the crisis.
October 21, 1962 Ted Sorenson writes one of the most important speeches President Kennedy will ever give.

Attorney and advisor to the president, Ted Sorenson, writes the speech that Kennedy will give to the nation. Informing Americans that the Soviets have missiles in Cuba that are pointed at the U.S. will be an important moment in American history and one of the most frightening speech as president ever gives.
October 22, 1962 President Kennedy gives a televised speech to the nation.

President Kennedy gives a speech that is carried live on television stations across the country to inform Americans that missiles have been discovered in Cuba. He tells Americans that he has ordered a Navy quarantine around Cuba and orders the Soviets to remove the missiles.
October 23, 1962 Soviet ships on their way to Cuba are stopped.

Khrushchev orders Soviet ships on their way to Cuba to stop in the Atlantic about 750 miles away. This prevents a confrontation with U.S. ships that are around Cuba, although Soviet submarines trailed behind the U.S. ships as they moved into place.
October 24, 1962 Khrushchev refuses to remove the missiles from Cuba.

Saying that the U.S. will not intimidate the Soviets, Khrushchev refuses to remove the missiles from Cuba. He also accuses Kennedy of putting the world at risk of a nuclear war by ordering the quarantine.
October 25, 1962 Kennedy orders increased flights over to Cuba.

Making no progress with his communications with Khrushchev, President Kennedy orders flights over Cuba to be increased from once to twice per day. Pilots also prepare to begin night flights as the U.S. monitors the Cuban missiles.
October 26, 1962 The U.S. begins discussions about invading Cuba.

Concerned that the Soviets may not remove the missiles from Cuba, Ex-Comm begins to discuss plans to invade Cuba to take control of the missiles. Doing this would most likely result in war.
October 27, 1962 An American pilot flies off course into Soviet airspace.

Charles Maultsby, an American pilot, gets lost flying a mission to Alaska and ends up in Soviet airspace. An American jet rescues him and leads him back to the U.S. before the Soviets can shoot his plane down.
October 27, 1962 President Kennedy agrees to not invade Cuba.

After Khrushchev says that he will remove the missiles from Cuba if Kennedy promises not to invade Cuba, Kennedy agrees to the proposal. He also secretly agrees to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey. The world goes to bed that night waiting to see if Khrushchev will accept the arrangement and bring the crisis to an end.
October 28, 1962 Khrushchev agrees to remove the missiles.

Khrushchev gives a speech on Radio Moscow and says that he has agreed to Kennedy's arrangement. The missiles will be removed, Cuba will not be invaded, and the crisis comes to an end.