Major Richard Heyser’s flight over Cuba on October 14, 1962, triggered the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis. The photos he took of the newly built installations in Cuba alerted the United States of the Soviet Union’s intent to build missile sites in Cuba. The CIA identified launchers, missiles, and transport trucks. The missile sites were capable of striking targets throughout the United States. President John F. Kennedy met with his team of advisors on October 16th to discuss how to respond to the missile threat. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara presented three options: diplomacy with the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev; a naval quarantine of Cuba; or an air attack to destroy the missiles sites. President Kennedy chose the quarantine option. What follows is 13 days of negotiations between the Soviets and the United States. Castro sent a letter to Khrushchev on October 26th urging him to launch a nuclear first strike against the United States. Fortunately, Khrushchev disregarded the request. On October 27th, Major Rudolf Anderson was shot down and killed over Cuba and war appeared to be imminent. Finally, a compromise was agreed upon. The Soviets would dismantle the missile sites in Cuba and the United States would withdraw missiles from Turkey and promised not to attack Cuba.
This week we salute Joe Corley. Joe was born in Arizona. His father was a hard rock miner and they moved around. He attended elementary school in Utah, and high school in Nevada. Three years after graduating from high school, Joe joined the U.S. Army. He went to basic at Fort ORD, California, and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Rucker, Alabama. His military occupational specialty (MOS) was a fixed wing aircraft mechanic, and he was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas from 1961-1963. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to upgrade helicopters for the possible invasion of Cuba. Joe was in the U.S. Army reserves from 1963 to 1969, leaving service as a Specialist 4 (SP4). He went on to get his bachelor’s degree from Oregon School of Technology. He has had a variety of jobs, including working in Colstrip on units 3 and 4 and then as a cowboy on the Lee Ranch. Furthermore, he is married to Pat Corley.
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Dr. Irene Dickerson has a doctorate in Business Administration and is a retired Army Colonel living her best life in Big Sky Country.