60th Anniversary: The Cuban Missile Crisis

Local Identifier: 342-B-ND-018A-167731USAF; Original Caption: MRBM Field Launch Site, San Cristobal #1, October 14 1962. (This photo provided the first photographic evidence of Soviet offensive missile deployment in Cuba.)

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union in October 1962. The international crisis escalated when American missiles were deployed in Italy and Turkey, as well as when Soviet missiles were deployed in Cuba. This October 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the events. 

Following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion–an United States attempt to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime–Soviet Union leadership reached a secret agreement to install Soviet missiles in Cuba. United States intelligence soon discovered the construction of these sites during routine surveillance. President John F. Kennedy then issued a warning against these efforts. However, on October 14th, President Kennedy received further photographic evidence of construction of medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles sites in Cuba. This was the beginning of the tensions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On October 22nd, 1962, President Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine of Cuba, meaning “all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba” were blocked by US Naval forces. Despite ongoing tensions between the two countries, less than a week later, the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw missiles from Cuba on the stipulation the United States would likewise remove all missiles from Turkey.

Included below are a few select images related to the Cuban Missile Crisis from the holdings of the Still Picture Branch.

For a detailed history of the Cuban Missile Crisis, please see the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library’s website at https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/jfk-in-history/cuban-missile-crisis and the US State Department’s Office of the Historian website at https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis.

Local Identifier: 306-PSD-62-6778; Original Caption: San Cristobal, Cuba: Low level photograph of the San Cristobal Mid Range Ballistic Missile site #1 erected by the Soviet Union (taken 1-23-62). These are some of the “offensive weapons” brought to the island by Russia. Source: US Department of Defense.
Local Identifier: 342-B-ND-018A-1-167766USAF; Original Caption: Cuba – Kasimov with IL-28 Fuselages – September 28, 1962.
Local Identifier: 306-PSD-62-7082; Original Caption: San Cristobal, Cuba: Aerial view of the Soviet Medium Range Ballistic Missile base in Cuba taken late 10-62. Source: US Department of Defense.
Local Identifier: 79-AR-7550B; Photograph of President Kennedy meeting with his Cabinet.
Local Identifier: 79-AR-7552A; Photograph of President Kennedy meeting with Andrei Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Vladimir S. Samenov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, and Anatoly F. Dobrynin, Ambassador of the USSR.
Local Identifier: 79-AR-7558B; Photograph of President Kennedy signing the Proclamation for the Cuba Blockade
Local Identifier: 306-PSD-62-7108; Original Caption: US Navy Helicopter observed Soviet Submarine operating in vicinity during Cuban Quarantine operations. 10-62. Source: US Navy.
Local Identifier: 428-N-1065078; Original Caption: October 22, 1962. Airlift of US Marines to the US Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Marine form airlift to Cuba in front of the hangar prior to being transported to their stations on the base.
Local Identifier: 306-PSC-62-7004; Original Caption: Argentina: Officers and crew aboard Argentine destroyer “Rosales” stand at attention listening to departure orders to join U.S. units in quarantine of Cuba. Date: 10-28-62. Source: USIS/Buenos Aires.
Local Identifier: 127-N-A332409; Original Caption: US Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 1962. Lance Cpl. Herbert J. Arenholz of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, stands guard in front of the MLR at the base.
Local Identifier: 306-PSD-62-7100; Original Caption: Soviet ship Fizik Kurchatov at sea showing six canvas-covered missile transporters with missiles on deck. The ship departed Cuba November 7, 1962 (photo date). Source: US Department of Defense.
Local Identifier: 306-PSD-62-7115; Original Caption: Cuba: The Soviet Ship Bretek, showing two missiles with canvas cover removed. The skin tight casing used to protect missiles against sea exposure and corrosion is clearly visible. Source: US Department of Defense. Date: 11-9-62.
Local Identifier: 111-SC-601778; Original Caption: Fort Stewart, GA President John F. Kennedy makes an inspection tour of units of the 1st Armored Div staged at Fort Stewart of the Cuban build-up. With the President (left) is Maj Gen Ralph E. Haines, Jr, CG, 1st Armored Division and (right) Gen Maxwell D Taylor, Chairman of the Joint COFS. In the (foreground) is the division mascot. 26 November 1962 Photo by Pvt Urbanavicius.
Local Identifier: 111-SC-601776; Original Caption: Fort Stewart, GA President John F Kennedy addresses men of the 1st Armored Division staged at Ft Stewart for the Cuban build-up. The President Kennedy with his official party toured build-up units in the Southeast United States during his one day tour. 26 Nov 1962 Photo by Pvt Urbanavicius.

The photographs included in this post have no copyright restrictions. If you have any questions about the images in this post or the holdings of the Still Picture Branch, please contact us at stillpix@nara.gov.


Generally, copies of photographic records held by the National Archives may be published without special permission or additional fees. The National Archives does not grant exclusive or non-exclusive publication privileges. Copies of Federal records, as part of the public domain, are equally available to all. A small percentage of photographs in our holdings are or may be subject to copyright restrictions. The National Archives does not confirm the copyright status of photographs but will provide any information known about said status. It is the user’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances. Any use of these items is made at the researcher’s or purchaser’s own risk.

Proper credit lines are encouraged in the interest of good documentation. They also help inform the public about government photographic resources that are available.

*Because so many of our requests for information cite credits and captions that appear in published works, the inclusion of a photo number in hard copy and electronic publications is of great assistance to both us and the public.

Examples of preferred credit lines are as follows:

  • National Archives photo no. 210-G-C241
  • Credit National Archives (photo no. 83-G-41368)
  • Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 83-G-41430
  • National Archives (210-G-A14)

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