Rocky IV poster - US vs Soviet Union
THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (Part 1: Cold War on Defrost)
August 9, 2016
Cuban Missile Crisis
THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS (Part 3: Russian Roulette with Nukes!)
August 22, 2016
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Bay of Pigs


Previously on Epik Fails of History – Part One: Cold War on Defrost!

The United States installed an anti-communist dictator (and all around jerk) named Batista in Cuba, which led to the Cuban Revolution and the rise of a pro-communist dictator: Castro. Meanwhile, the Cold War heated up as the US and USSR stockpiled loads of Ragnarok-inducing nuclear warheads. Then Stalin’s successor, Khrushchev, became best buds with Castro…


Declassified documents

During the Eisenhower administration, the CIA developed a top-secret program to take out Castro, primarily because he was a communist and his too close for comfort proximity to the US of A. Since then, declassified documents have revealed that over the years the CIA devised a number of Mission Impossible-style tactics to assassinate Fidel, including but not limited to *an exploding cigar!* This insane James Bondian plan was known as (no joke) “Operation Mongoose”. Unfortunately it had the success rate of Wile E. Coyote.

This was the situation that JFK inherited.


John F. Kennedy was a rich, Irish-Catholic womanizer. He was also elected President of the United States in 1961. Regardless of his somewhat scandalous personal life, JFK was actually a loving father to three children, gave most of his money to charity, and is considered one of the most inspiring leaders of the 20th century.

In his all too brief tenure, Kennedy worked to end segregation and helped to ignite America’s space program. Unfortunately he also had a hand in one of America’s greatest mistakes to date. Soon after being elected, Kennedy found himself thrown into the deep end of one of the most intense political crises of our time…

Austin Powers - the 60's

(The Swingin’ 60’s?)


a pig in camo on the beach

The Bay of Pigs was easily the greatest mishap of the Kennedy Administration, but also probably the dumbest thing the United States has ever done. Basically the CIA authorized a secret operation to depose Castro and install a non-communist leader in his place. The plan involved sneaking a group of heavily armed anti-Castro Cubans onto the island from Miami in hopes of lighting a revolution from within.

It backfired.

What's the worst that could happen

What’s the worse that could happen?

Bay of Pigs - LIFE cover

The operation went so horribly wrong in fact that it completely severed ties with Cuba, strengthening its allegiance to Soviet Russia and escalated the rising tensions of the Cold War. 1,511 brave, Cuban-American soldiers were sent in to take on an army of 75,000.

On April 15th, 1961 this covert military invasion was launched against Cuba as B-26 bombers began strafing runs along the coast. Only problem? Castro’s regime knew the attack was coming. The Cuban military sent out obsolete decoy planes to draw their fire. On the 16th, the first two battalions of Brigade 2506 were deployed in the cover of night.

However, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the transports ran into some trouble coming ashore, when they ran into some super sharp coral reefs. Early the next morning as they came ashore, their presence was already detected, leaving the soldiers completely exposed to air attacks. When the soldiers reached the beach they were greeted by a dozen heavy artillery shells courtesy of the USSR.

Call of Duty - Black Ops

Also the opening level of “Call of Duty: Black Ops”

Unfortunately, Kennedy was between a chain saw and a cactus patch, knowing that if he sent in reinforcements, it could dial up the heat on the Cold War to a toasty thermonuclear broil. 72 hours later, on the 19th of April, when all was said and done: more than 400 American lives were lost, 5 planes were shot down, 2 ships were sunk and 1001 soldiers were taken prisoner. JFK negotiated the release of the POW’s by trading $53 million in medicine and food for the people of Cuba.

So yeah, the Bay of Pigs invasion may have been one of the biggest failures in American history, but things were about to go from really really bad to worst case scenario…

Cuban Missile Crisis - map


Don't Poke the Bear - signIf the failed invasion of Cuba wasn’t bad enough, Kennedy added gasoline on the electric fire by authorizing the strategic placement of Jupiter ballistic missiles in Turkey and aimed them directly at multiple heavily populated Russian cities, including Moscow. These atomic payloads were justified to defend NATO and the European nations from any potential aggression from the Soviet Union – BUT what the US didn’t realize is that they were the ones being needlessly aggressive and making things sooo much worse.

As it turns out, the Russians didn’t exactly appreciate nuclear missiles in their front yard. They decided to give the US a taste of its own medicine. So Khrushchev called up his good drinking buddy, Castro. The Soviet Premiere offered Castro protection in case the Americans tried anything again, by giving him some nukes.

Nuclear Missile types chart

Choose Your Weapon

The really troubling thing about Cuba obtaining WMD’s is its relative location to the United States: a mere 90 miles off the coast of Miami, Florida. If $#!%* really hit the fan, Soviet warheads launched from Cuba could obliterate the US Capitol in a matter of hours.

Anchorman: Well that escalated quickly

To be concluded – Part 3: Russian Roulette with Nukes!

                                 ERIK SLADER

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Hitchhiker's Guide - Don't Panic—– More articles on Historic Failure:






“One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War” by Michael Dobbs

“Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Robert F. Kennedy

“Days of Decision: Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Cath Senker

“The Cold War: A History” by Martin Walker

“History Uncovered: Bay of Pigs – Declassified” – History Documentary

Erik Slader
Erik Slader
Erik Slader is the creator of “Epik Fails of History” a blog (and podcast) about the most epic fails… of history. With Ben Thompson, Erik is the co-author of the Epic Fails book series. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media, once managed a comic book shop, has a weakness for fancy coffee and currently lives in Green Cove Springs, Florida with too many cats.

1 Comment

  1. lifo says:

    Soviet ships that had once secretly transported missiles to Cuba now freely displayed their cargo. Moscow had called the missiles home. Cuba was on her own.

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