Who knew that Everglades National Park was a critical line of defense during the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis? When Soviet missile sites were discovered in Cuba in 1962, the US immediately realized that our southern border was completely vulnerable to Soviet attack. Within days, a mobile Missile Battalion was deployed to the Everglades, followed by construction of a base that housed 41-foot nuclear missiles in a constant state of readiness.
Recognizing that the 52nd Air Defense Artillery played a key role in preventing the crisis from escalating, President Kennedy came to Homestead AFB to present them with the Army’s Meritorious Unit Commendation, an award usually given during wartime.
“We owe life as we know it, in part, to the skill, accuracy and restraint of these Cold Warriors. On the ground in south Florida, “eyeball to eyeball” with the enemy, these men appropriately responded to the constant testing of our defenses by enemy aircraft and never once jumped the gun. They are heroes of a war never fought.”