"Augusta to Havana"

Nikki Finke remembers an assignment for Newsweek, from the website Newsweek Memories:

   On October 22, 1983, I was tapped for a White House weekend trip and flew Air Force One to Augusta so then President Ronald Reagan could play Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club where The Masters is held. It was supposed to be a fun assignment. Then that Saturday afternoon, a lone gunman burst onto the golf course and demanded to talk to the President. As quickly as it began, the hubbub was over, and we in the press corp filed our stories and went to sleep in a nearby hotel. Until I was awakened at an ungodly hour by one of the White House press officers and told we were flying back to Washingon immediately because the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut had been bombed.
   It was a very solemn Sunday inside the White House. It was also all hands on deck at Newsweek because the magazine made the unprecedented decision to hold publication and incorporate Sunday’s news developments.
After the issue (later award-winning) was put to bed, I had a few days off.
   I slept all day Monday. On Tuesday, October 25, I woke up, put on a very slick St John’s skirt suit, broke up at lunch with a married lover (who famously divorced his wife soon afterwards), and prepared to grab the DC-NY air shuttle for a quick dinner in Manhattan when I swung by the Newsweek Bureau just to check in.
   Big Mistake.

   ”You don’t have time to go home!” everyone in the office kept breathlessly repeating to me. Dazed and confused, I was handed one phone and another and another until finally someone gave me the briefest of briefings. “You’re flying to Miami where you’ll meet up with [staff photographer] Larry Downing who was on his way to Alaska when we turned him around. The two of you will meet up in Miami with two Washington Post writers, and all four of you will grab a chartered plane. Here’s $25,000 in cash. Good luck.”

  In all the commotion, everybody had failed to give me some very pertinent information.

   ”Where am I going?” I asked.

   ”Cuba,” came the reply.

   ”Do I have a visa? I asked.

   ”No, but we’ve been assured that the plane won’t be turned around.”

[via Newsweek Memories]