NEW YORK, Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- October 16-28, 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. One of the forgotten yet crucial details of the crisis are the low-level reconnaissance missions—designated as Operation Blue Moon -- flown by U.S. military pilots that proved to Kennedy that the Russians had moved missiles onto Cuba.
In the book, Capt. Ecker tells the story of how on October 19, 1962, American military planners quietly ordered his squadron and their state-of-the art RF-8A Crusader jets to a remote airbase in Key West, Florida. (John Glenn had previously set a speed record in a Crusader.) Once there, the pilots and crews waited as CIA analysts made their case to President Kennedy.
Ecker and his team got their orders on October 23rd. Their mission was to enter Cuban airspace at treetop level at a fraction below the speed of sound and photograph suspected missile sites with their suite of high-speed cameras. They flew width-wise across the narrow island and then to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, where the Navy's main photographic lab was located. As soon as the photos were developed and interpreted, they were delivered to the White House.
On October 25th, Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, exhibited prints of Capt. Ecker's photographs to his Russian counterpart and demanded an answer from him.
From October 23rd-November 15th, 168 Blue Moon sorties were flown across Cuba by American armed forces—often under intense enemy fire. Those missions occurring after October 28th were used by Kennedy to verify the dismantling of the missile sites. For their role, the pilots and crews were presented with a Navy Unit Commendation by President Kennedy in November 1962, who said in his remarks, "The reconnaissance flights which enabled us to determine with precision the offensive build-up in Cuba contributed directly to the security of the United States in the most important and significant way."
About the authors
Captain William B. Ecker (April 6, 1924 – November 5, 2009) was born in Omaha, Nebraska. A veteran of World War II as well as the Cold War, he was a career officer and naval aviator, serving in the United States Navy from 1942 until 1974. After the end of the Missile Crisis, Ecker received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.
Kenneth V. Jack enlisted in the Navy in 1959, where he was a photographer's mate second class. He was first trained as a Navy photographer and later as a photographic-electronics technician responsible for maintaining the aircraft's photo electronics equipment. He participated in the squadron's implementation of the forward-firing KA-45 camera, which gave VFP-62 unique capabilities for capturing detailed photographic intelligence of the Soviet missile sites being installed in Cuba. He developed a website dedicated to the Navy's photo squadron ( www.vfp62.com ) and serves as its webmaster.
Contact: John Tintera, 718-433-4402, firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Captain William B. Ecker; Kenneth V. Jack