january, 2019

fri18jan2:00 pm3:00 pmAuthor event: Michael Tougias - Above and Beyond: JFK and the Florida U-2 Pilots During the Cuban Missile Crisis2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Main Branch


Event Details

In this multimedia presentation New York Times bestselling author Michael J. Tougias first chronicles the thirteen harrowing days of the Cuban Missile Crisis and then outlines the steps President Kennedy made to reach a decision on a course of action.

Special emphasis is given to the heroes of the crisis: the U-2 pilots who flew from McCoy AFB in Orlando to Cuba to secure the photographic proof that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles on the island. These pilots were supported by Crusader aircraft flying from Key West – they flew at tree top level through anti-aircraft fire over Cuba. These pilots helped President Kennedy achieve a difficult objective: have the nuclear missiles removed from Cuba without triggering Armageddon.

JFK secretly audio recorded every meeting conducted during the Cuban Missile Crisis. These transcripts, as well as recently declassified CIA documents, form the basis of this fascinating analysis into JFK’s successful decision making. Tougias has interviewed the U-2 pilots who discovered the missiles eliciting special insights that have remained undisclosed in the intervening 53 years. The presentation includes three lesser-known events that put us on the brink of nuclear war:
• The shoot-down of Major Rudolph Anderson who was killed in his U-2 by a Soviet Surface to Air Missile over Cuba.
• Florida native son and pilotSteve Heyser who was the first to discover the missiles. And Florida resident Jerry McIlmoyle who escaped being brought down by two SAM’s.
• The accidental incursion of a U-2 from Alaska into Soviet air space, and the chase that ensued, including fighter jets with nuclear tipped missiles.
• The Russian submarine commander who wanted to launch his nuclear torpedo when the Americans tried to force him to the surface.

This unique presentation entertains with the dramatic chronicling of the Cuban Missile Crisis (with slides) while providing useful analysis of JFK’s process of tackling major decisions in practical ways that others can learn from and adopt. It’s an especially timely topic today with current tensions with North Korea and Russia.

Michael J. Tougias is a NY Times Bestselling author and co-author of 30 books. He is best known for his seven survival at sea books such as A Storm Too Soon, So Close To Home, and The Finest Hours that is now a major motion picture by Disney. His book, Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do in the Blizzard of 78, was selected by the American Library Association as one of the “Top Books of the Year” and described as “a white-knuckle read, the best book of its kind.” His latest co-written book is about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the U-2 Spy Plane shot down over Cuba, and three other little known events which had us “a whisker away from WWIII.” The book is titled Above & Beyond: JFK and America’s Most Dangerous Spy Mission.

Mr. Tougias will do a book signing following his presentation.  Copies of his book will be available for purchase.  This event is funded by the Friends of the Main Library St. Augustine.  Questions?  Please call the Main Library at 904.827.6940.


(Friday) 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Main Branch

1960 N. Ponce De Leon Blvd. St. Augustine, FL 32084