Travis Air Force Base’s most dramatic moment of the early 1960s was the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. The base was alerted to the seriousness of the crisis on October 21, 1962. Fortunately, our mighty air power never had to be unleashed because the crisis was resolved peacefully.
My printers and I were the first to be put on alert. We would print top secret orders 24 hours a day for Travis Airlifters to move troops and supplies to Florida for a possible invasion of Cuba in case the crisis over Soviet missiles in that country turned into a war with the United States.
The plan was to drop our paratroopers to take the airports and then air land more troops. We were pretty serious about Cuba.
On October 28, 1962, the Soviets agreed to dismantle their weapons.
My printers and I gathered up all the leftover classified papers, bagged them up and gave them to the officer from the War Plans Department, who had also been with us day and night.
After the officer left and we were cleaning our equipment and checked the collators, we found during the collation of the classified pages some papers had fallen down behind the bins. I had to take the two collators apart to retrieve those papers.
I called the officer and told him what happened. He was not very happy; he wanted to get home to his family. We all wanted to get home to our families.
I played it smart. I called my boss who lived on base, and told him everything. He said he was on his way to the print shop.
My boss, who was the headquarters commander, was there talking to me when the plans officer came in. He took the papers and never said two words and left.
My boss told us we did a great job, and for us to go home.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)