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Gifts for Gitmo (1962)


Sound | 1962

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  •  KPRC radio personalities Tim Nolan, left, and Bob Byron. The morning duo were on the airwaves for over a decade.  
  •  Red Cross volunteers assemble and wrap presents 
  •  Loading the transport plane 
  •  Meyer Minchen co-pilots the aircraft. Minchen served in the United States Navy during World War II, flying 55 missions in Patrol Bombing Squadron 114. He received seven medals for his service, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. 
  •  Guantanamo Bay Naval Base 
  •  Cuban “cactus curtain” 
  •  Suicide Hill 
  •  Rear Admiral E. J. O’Donnell and Rear Admiral James Davis welcome the arrival of the Gitmo Special 
  •  Admiral O’Donnell on the situation in Cuba 
  •  Unloading the aircraft 
  •  The troops sing “Silent Night” to show their appreciation 
  •  Gift giving 
  •  Holiday greetings from Texan service members  
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In October 1962, Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union escalated into a 13-day political and military standoff known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Following the conflict’s resolution, KPRC talk radio hosts Tim Nolan and Bob Byron proposed a community project in support of US personnel stationed at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Veterans service organizations like the Navy League and American Legion soon joined the cause, collecting Christmas gifts to deliver to the military base. On December 19, a Navy transport plane, dubbed the “Gitmo Special,” flew from Ellington Air Force Base in Houston to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Aboard were a large, white Christmas tree and 1,700 pounds of wrapped presents. This special broadcast for Houston’s KPRC-TV chronicles the “Gifts for Gitmo” project. It also gives a general introduction to the naval base and its operations. To show their appreciation, the servicemen sing “Silent Night” for the film crew. Sailors from Texas also deliver personal messages of thanks.