Lake Charles Navy veteran served during Cuban Missile Crisis - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Charles Navy veteran served during Cuban Missile Crisis

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(Source: John Bridges/KPLC) (Source: John Bridges/KPLC)
(Source: John Bridges/KPLC) (Source: John Bridges/KPLC)
(Source: John Bridges/KPLC) (Source: John Bridges/KPLC)

A volunteer with the U.S.S. Orleck was part of the Cuban Missile Crisis during John F. Kennedy's presidency. 

In October 1962, Machinist Mate First Class Willie Montgomery was right in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy had ordered a blockade of Russian ships that were delivering nuclear warheads to Cuba.

"Everybody was kind of nervous, because if anything went in or anything tried to get through, it would have been World War III," said Montgomery. "That's how bad it was."

Montgomery remembers everyone on the U.S.S. Sumner being on standby, with weapons ready.

"They had airplanes sitting on the runway at Jacksonville Beach with weapons underneath the wings. Kennedy meant business. We knew he meant business. That's the reason everyone was kinda nervous."

Willie is now retired, having taught shop class at Sulphur High School. He is now volunteering in the machine shop at the U.S.S. Orleck Museum in Lake Charles. The Sumner was a similar destroyer to the Orleck.

"These old ships, most of them have been scrapped. This ship right here, the Orleck. There's three left in the world. One in Mexico, this one and one, the U.S.S. Kennedy in Massachusetts." 

With volunteers like Montgomery, the Orleck can hopefully one day find a permanent home in SWLA. For more information on the Orleck, go to http://orleck.org.

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