Pinetree Line Miscellaneous

Cuban Missile Crisis

Were you working at a Pinetree Line radar station back in October 1962? If so - then there is a very strong chance that your unit was involved in some form of "Advanced Readiness" as a result of the "Cuban Missile Crisis"

As is the case with most things, there appears to be very little documentation available which provides the reader with an understanding of what actually took place. There is little doubt in my mind that each and evry radar station was affected in one way or another.

We have managed to come up with a little bit of detail. Perhaps some of this will "jog your memory".

Armstrong, ON - The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Armstrong, ON.

21 Nov 62

The "Alert-Status" which was in effect for four weeks was dropped, and personnel were permitted to leave the immediate area on leave and pass.

Baldy Hughes, BC - The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for Badly Hughes Air Station, BC.

This quarter has been one of intense activity at the 918th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron. The main area of concern during the quarter was the Cuban Crisis. However during the increased defense readiness conditions, the routine activities of the squadron were carried on as usual. The impending phase-out of the squadron progressed with no problem areas.

Then at 1735Z hours, 22 October this squadron received an alert status of Delta. The initial reaction by the squadron personnel was one of interest and speculation. There was, at this time, no information as to what event or events had prompted the increased weapons status. The status had no immediate effect on this squadron but everyone felt that we too would soon go to a higher defense readiness condition. When Minicom was received at 1955Z hours on the same date, the local situation became even more tense. Rumors were numerous and varied but no one knew for sure what was happening. The word that President Kennedy was scheduled to make a nationally broadcast speech in the afternoon was gladly received by the personnel of this squadron.

When the time for President Kennedy's speech came, almost every member of the squadron was gathered around a radio. The speech was even piped into the Operations Room to allow those on duty to hear what the President was going to say. The reaction to the speech by each individual was, almost without exception, of one accord. There was a feeling of gladness and determination. Gladness that now the United States had made a firm stand against communism and had taken the necessary steps to back-up this stand and determination in that each person was ready and willing to do his part (no matter how small or large it may be) to insure the success of the action the United States had taken.

For a few moments in the speech there was a feeling of concern and of speculation as to what would happen next. Then at 2300Z the squadron received a CONAD alert status of DEFCON 3 "D". At this time the serious work of adjusting crew schedules, guard schedules, and implementing other measures that were felt necessary to meet the requirements of the state of alert was begun. It was left to the individual sections of the squadron to prepare their own work schedules. All personnel realized at this time that there may be little or no time off.

After the CONAD alert had been received a formation of all squadron personnel was called by the Squadron Commander. At this time, Lt. Colonel Naigle reviewed the situation and discussed the policies that it would be necessary to implement. Among these policies were a curfew placed on all personnel, the requirement for all personnel to be within telephone contact with the squadron at all times, and that no leaves or passes would be approved. Increased security was also discussed. Personnel were reminded that an increase in security was very important. It was stressed that the situation was not to be discussed with any civilians. Lt. Colonel Naigle then reminded all personnel that the situation was extremely flexible and that each person would have to adjust quickly and efficiently to any changes that might be necessary. The next area of concern was to review the DEFCON requirements and to prepare in case there might be an increase in the alert state. It was also necessary to review the various operations plans, regulations, and manuals to ensure that the squadron was prepared to meet any emergency. Defense capability under fallout plans were also reviewed and procedures checked. DECUF personnel were kept on stand-by.

On 22 October 1962 Operations went into a two crew schedule. There were seventeen operators on each crew. With a two crew schedule it was necessary for each crew to work twelve hours on with twelve hours off. This schedule precluded any break time. Operations also furnished one guard each day as well as provide for the regular details of dining hall attendant and squadron detail. The Weapons Controllers went into a twenty-four hour on duty shift. At this time, one of the five directors assigned to this station was on TDY at the 758th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Neah Bay Air Force Station, Washington. There were two directors on each twenty-four hour shift, so each director worked twenty-four hours on with twenty-four hours off.

At the same time Communications and Electronics went into a two crew schedule. Each crew was composed of twenty-one men in the following breakdown: twelve radar maintenance personnel, three radio maintenance personnel, three communications center personnel, two wire maintenance personnel, and one crypto operator. One crew headed by the C&E Officer and the other crew was headed by the Communications Officer. The section worked a schedule of twelve hours on and twelve hours off. C&E also furnished personnel for guard duty.

The Security and Law Enforcement Section also had to assume an expanded work schedule. It was necessary to post two guards at the main entrance to the station as this post also controls access to the security areas. The section was divided into three crews of two men each. Each crew worked a twelve hour on and twenty-four hour off schedule.

There also existed the requirement to increase security measures in the operational areas. This was accomplished by forming a special guard detail. Each of three details consisting of a Sergeant-of-the Guard and four guards, worked eight hour shifts. The personnel manning the guard details were furnished by all sections of the squadron. One guard was stationed at the power plant and one at the Micro-wave (Telco) transmitter. This arrangement resulted in one hour on guard and one hour off. Because of the cold temperatures it was determined that one hour was the maximum time that a man should spend on guard post. Security in the transmitter-receiver area was maintained by the radio maintenance personnel on duty. The Sergeant-of-the-Guard was required to check each guard post and the transmitter-receiver area twice hourly. Security guards were armed with 30 caliber carbines and were issued sixty rounds of ammunition. The Sergeant-of-the-Guard was issued a 45 caliber pistol. He carried 200 rounds of ammunition in the vehicle. Each Sergeant-of-the-Guard was required to fire the 45 caliber pistol for familiarization prior to assuming duties.

The remaining sections of the squadron did not go into an extended work schedule. They furnished personnel for the security guard and for the Sergeant-of-the-Guard. As during normal circumstances, the details of dining hall attendants, Junior Officer-of-the-Day, and squadron detail were maintained. All sections furnished personnel for these details.

Both Operations and C&E soon realized that they could not, nor would it be necessary to, maintain a two crew schedule indefinitely. On 26 October, Operations went into a three crew schedule. Under this schedule each crew worked twelve hours with twenty-four hours off. In this mode of operation each crew had eleven personnel. The Weapons Directors remained on a twenty-four hour schedule but changed from two directors on each shift to one director on each shift. This schedule allowed each director to have a break before and after his twenty-four hour shift, and still provide two directors on duty during the day shift. At all remaining times an additional director was on fifteen minute stand-bye in the lower contonment area.

On 1 November C&E also went into a three crew schedule. Unlike Operations, however, C&E worked a schedule of eight hours on and sixteen hours off. Under the three crew set-up, two crews were made of fourteen personnel and one crew had fifteen personnel.

Something should be said about the manner in which this station's personnel ventured into the expanded work schedules. For most this was the first time that they had experienced an actual increased alert status. The expanded work schedule placed additional personnel on duty without a corresponding increase in work to be performed. Initially most of the personnel spent their time, when not actually performing a job, in playing cards, discussing the situation, and in similar ways. Soon though, the newness of the situation wore away and everyone soon drifted back into their normal manner. The manner in which personnel accepted the situation with its increased work hour requirements is commendable. Although many persons spent many hours on guard duty or performing tasks not required under normal circumstances, none felt that they had reason to neglect in any degree their duties. Performance of these duties often necessitated working during break time. It was with a feeling of relief that DEFCON 5A was received on 27 November. It took but a short time for each section to return to normal schedules and to readjust to normal working conditions.

Beaverbank, NS - The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Beaverbank, NS.

24 Oct 62

Operations - 22 AC&W Squadron placed on "Defcon 3" at 1732Z. One weeks supply of food was placed in the Operations kitchen. Two dormitories were set up - one for AW and the other for officers and men - capacity 30. A Deputy Battle Commander on duty at all times. Battle Commander on 15 minute standby. All flights placed on 15 minute standby and increased manning implemented. Security checks in Operations building carried out hourly, around the clock. Fire arms issued to all officers.

Security - AFP checking all civilians employed within Operations Compound and carrying out constant patrols during daylight hours. AFP shift increased to two men per shift. One man in Operations area and the other at the main gate. Pistols and rifles issued to Officers and Airmen on guard detail.

Training - FS Bast, NCO i/c/ AFP, instructing Officer personnel in the use and handling of the 9mm pistol at station range.

26 Oct 62

Security - Security guards on duty at Operations compound guard house.

29 Oct 62

Security - AFP manning Operations compound gate in place of Security guards.

28 Nov 62

Operations - 22 AC&W Squadron placed on "Defcon 5" at 0020Z.

Edgar, ON - The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Edgar, ON.

22 Oct 62

Operations - CONAD to "Defcon 3". CTelo told Sector Commander that we would consider ourselves at "Defcon 3" in all technical aspects. He then told Air Commodore Hull, CStaffO, what he had done and obtained agreement. Complete check made of readiness.

24 Oct 62

NORAD "Defcon 3" called at 1745Z. Since the SAGE/Telecommunications is already at "Defcon 3" no major action necessary.

27 Nov 62

CINC NORAD declared Defcon 5 at 2355Z hours. Returned to normal operations.

Holberg, BC - The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Holberg, BC.

24 Oct 62

This unit as part of NORAD was ordered to increased alert status of DEFCON 3 because of the Cuban crisis. Operations personnel commenced two twelve hour shifts per day with normal days off cancelled. Several measures were taken to improve our capability to operate under fallout conditions, such as, semi-permanent cement block and sand bag walls built around the Height Finder Room, which will make it possible for our Height Finder operators to maintain operation even under heavy fallout.

27 Nov 62

This unit released from DEFCON 3 status and returned to normal operations.

Kamloops, BC - The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Kamloops, BC.

22 Oct 62

As a result of the Cuban quarantine, this unit went on DEFCON 4 effective 2359 hours 21 Oct. A meeting of section heads was called at 0800 hours today to discuss the necessary measure to be taken as called for in the ADC Emergency Defence Plan.

At 1803Z CINCNORAD declared DEFCON 5 (D) Status.

At 1848Z "Critical" informed that above alert status is actual.

At 2033Z CINCNORAD informs MINICOM 20 seconds at 1955Z.

23 Oct 62

At 0700Z DEFCON 3 declared.

24 Oct 62

At 1732Z CINCNORAD declares state DEFCON 3 Charlie.

28 Oct 62

At 0100Z CINCNORAD declares state DEFCON 5.

Lowther, ON - The following detail has been extracted from the Historical Records, for 639th AC&W Squadron at Lowther, ON.

Oct 62

The Squadron's readiness was tested during the Cuban crisis. The equipment and men of the 639th were ready and met all requirements. Control intercept training was not completed during the quarter due to curtailment of training during the Cuban crisis.

Moisie, QC The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Moisie, QC

24 Oct 62

Unit placed on Defence Condition Three. Measures taken to increase security vigilance. This advanced state of alert caused by Cuban crisis.

28 Nov 62

Unit returned to Defence Condition Five.

Pagwa, ON - The following detail has been extracted from the Historical Records, for 913th AC&W Squadron at Pagwa, ON.

Oct 62

During the Cuban crisis, the Operations section was one-hundred percent manned at all times. This was accomplished by forming two crews working twelve hour shifts. Limited training was accomplished during the month of October due to the increase in readiness during the Cuban crisis.

Parent, QC The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Parent, QC

24 Oct 62

Station Parent went on DEFCON 3 C at 1723Z as a result of the Cuban situation. External security precautions were maintained.

3 Nov 62

ADC reduced to DEFCON 3 B at 1632Z

27 Nov 62

ADC returned to DEFCON 5 "A" at 2355Z.

Puntzi Mountain, BC - The following detail has been extracted from the Historical Records, for 917th AC&W Squadron at Puntzi Mountain, BC.

22 Oct 62

On 22 October, the start of the Cuban crisis, the Operations section along with the entire defense team prepared itself for any eventuality. All leaves and passes, except emergencies were cancelled and maximum manning was in effect around-the-clock. Equipment was primed and peaked. The normal training program was suspended until "Normal Readiness Conditions" was called on 28 November 1962.

Senneterre, QC - The following detail has been extracted from the Historical Records, for 34th AC&W Squadron at Senneterre, QC.

22 Oct 62

CO and COpsO on 30 minute stand-by due to Cuban crisis.

24 Oct 62

1740Z - CINCNORAD declares DEFCON 3 (Cuban crisis).

29 Oct 62

Due to Cuban crisis, all leave cancelled unless within two hours recall of Unit.

31 Oct 62

Unit placed on DEFCON 3 towards end of month with subsequent restrictions to movement of personnel on leave and TD.

5 Nov 62

Cpl. Levesque, of the Communications Section, had to be recalled from leave because of a shortage of personnel during the Cuban crisis.

19 Nov 62

Aircraft now on alert at Val d'Or. Two F-101B's. CINCNORAD Declares DEFCON 5 - everything back to normal. Cuban affair over!

30 Nov 62

Even though the increase in Alert State due to the Cuban affair curtailed flying drastically, we still managed to get 204 intercepts.

Sioux Lookout The following detail has been extracted from the Narrative Reports for RCAF Station Sioux Lookout, ON

22 Oct 62

Unit advised that as a result of the Cuban crisis, CONAD placed on DEFCON 3 effective 1747Z. Station went on ROUNDHOUSE at unit level to ensure operational compatibility.

24 Oct 62

Unit placed on DEFCON 3 CHARLIE by CINCNORAD effective 1723Z. full Battle Staff manning and Security of the base increased by roving security patrols.

27 Nov 62

2357Z DEFCON 3 dropped to DEFCON 5 on authority of CINCNORAD.

Updated: June 9, 2002