Atomic Heritage Foundation Logo
910 17th St. NW Suite 408
Washington, DC 20006
April 2014 

We are cautiously optimistic that Congress will pass legislation to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park this year. In anticipation of the park, we are working on our "Ranger in Your Pocket" series, adding more oral histories to our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website, and more.
In This Issue
Legislative Update

We are pleased to report that on April 30, 2014 the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act was included as an amendment to the House FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness added the amendment. 


The full House will probably consider the NDAA during the week of May 19th. The Senate is expected to consider the NDAA in the fall, probably after the Congressional elections. Last year, the Senate dropped the amendment over lack of agreement on what additional public lands bills might be added to create a "package" of bills. With several months to go, we are hopeful that some agreement can be reached so that the Manhattan Project National Historical Park can be enacted this year.


Rep. Doc Hastings
AHF will continue to work in collaboration with our partners in the local communities, the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, TRIDEC, and the Energy Communities Alliance to see the bill passed and the park established. We are grateful for the leadership of Representative Doc Hastings for spearheading the effort to pass the bill in the House and to Chairman Buck McKeon and the Armed Services Committee for agreeing to include the bill in the House NDAA.



Tennessee Tuesday & Cold War Patriots
Senator Lamar Alexander, AHF President Cindy Kelly, 
AHF Program Manager Alexandra Levy, and Senator Bob Corker
On April 9, AHF President Cindy Kelly and Program Manager Alexandra Levy attended two events at the Capitol. Every Tuesday, Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker greet constituents at a "Tennessee Tuesday" breakfast. Kelly and Levy were able to speak with Senators Alexander and Corker about the Manhattan Project Park bill. Senator Alexander has read AHF's anthology, "The Manhattan Project," and greeted Kelly with, "It's the historian!" Both Senators are committed to establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park this year.
Senator Mark Udall with AHF President Cindy Kelly and members of the Cold War Patriots in front of the Remembrance Quilt on display at the Capitol

Next Kelly and Levy attended the Cold War Patriots' Remembrance Quilt Ceremony, featuring Senator Mark Udall (D-CO). The Cold War Patriots is an organization that helps nuclear weapons-complex workers and uranium miners who have suffered health problems as a result of their work. Their Remembrance Quilt honors nuclear workers. Each quilt square contains the name of a former worker, his/her years of service and the facility where he/she worked. The quilt, which travels around the country, was on display at the Richard Russell Rotunda at the Capitol for the event. Senator Udall spoke movingly about the nuclear workers who have served their country and in some cases have sacrificed their health and even their lives doing so.


Kelly had a chance to speak with Senator Udall about the park. Senator Udall, who is the cousin of New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and has been a firm supporter of the park. He expressed hope that the park would soon be established.


Preserving Historic Wendover

The Enola Gay hangar before its restoration
Wendover Airfield was a training base for the Army Air Corps during World War II. As the home of the 509th Composite Group and the 216th Army Air Forces Base Unit, the air base played a key role in the Manhattan Project. The 509th, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Paul W. Tibbetts, was assigned the mission of dropping atomic bombs, and the 216th, commanded by Col. Clifford Heflin, was in charge of weaponizing the science and engineering of the bomb. Wendover was used by the Air Force until 1969, and in recent years there have been efforts to preserve and restore its many historic properties, including the hangar that housed the Enola Gay during training.
Jim Petersen

In early 2009, the Atomic Heritage Foundation nominated the collective Manhattan Project sites for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. With its colorful Enola Gay hanger and significant local support, the National Trust selected Wendover Airfield as the "poster child" for the Manhattan Project sites in danger of being lost. On April 28, 2009, AHF's Cindy Kelly participated in an event highlighting the award with several Manhattan Project veterans and Jim Petersen, director of the Wendover Airfield and president and founder of the Historic Wendover Airfield Foundation. Petersen has led the effort to preserve the hangar and other properties at the historic airfield. Thanks to a National Park Service Save America's Treasures Grant, the hangar is now being restored. 


Wendover Historic Airfield video smaller

The Historic Wendover Airfield Foundation recently released a short film on the history of Wendover and efforts to preserve it. The film gives a glimpse into the fascinating history of the base and the crucial role it played in the Manhattan Project.


Remembering Oppenheimer

Photo courtesy of LAHS

April 22, 2014 would have been J. Robert Oppenheimer's 110th birthday. The Los Alamos Historical Society threw a party, complete with cupcakes, to celebrate Oppie's big day, and even made him a birthday hat!


Many of the Manhattan Project veterans we have interviewed for our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website fondly recall working with Oppenheimer at Los Alamos. Here are a few selections. For more, visit our website.



Ben Diven: He was totally wrapped up in his teaching and he loved his students. He was amazing in that he remembered people's names and faces; if he had only seen some technician once he would remember that person. He prowled the hallways at night to drop in on laboratories, see what people were doing, and he remembered what they were doing. 


Everybody had a feeling with Oppenheimer that this was somebody who really cared. It made working here just, well--you could almost call it a pleasure, even though it was much harder work and more frantic than anything we had ever experienced before, but we had a real feeling of belonging.


Peggy Bowditch: The thing that impressed me, chicken pox was going around. Oppie had been so carefully brought up, he had never had chicken pox. So he got it as an adult, and he was really sick. But even though he felt like nothing, he would still go to work as soon as he was no longer contagious.


In December of '53, my father [Admiral William "Deak" Parsons] heard at a cocktail party that Oppie's security clearance had been taken away. He was so upset that he came home and had a heart attack. He died the next morning, a week after his 52nd birthday.


Haskell Sheinberg: Oppenheimer was the one, I think, that really inspired all of us to interact with everybody else that we needed to do our job better. He certainly motivated us. The other good thing was that he trusted everybody to do their best and to do it honestly and help others, and be safe; he did stress that. Everybody tried to adhere to Oppenheimer's way that he managed the lab.


Roy Glauber: Oppenheimer commanded not just the loyalty but the deep respect of everybody who was at Los Alamos, and I cannot think of anyone else who would have succeeded as he did in that sense.


WGN Manhattan Project Miniseries Trailer


WGN America is producing a miniseries on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos to air this summer. They recently aired the first trailer of the show. It looks intriguing. As we mentioned in the March newsletter, WGN decided to change the scientists' names, so the head scientist is named Frank Winter, played by John Benjamin Hickey. But we think Winter's hat in the trailer looks a lot like Oppie's porkpie one, so they must be keeping some aspects of key scientists' personalities and style authentic!

"Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power"

Admiral Hyman Rickover, considered "the father of the nuclear Navy," is the subject of an excellent new documentary, "Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power." The documentary was produced by Michael Pack of Manifold Productions and inspired by Ted Rockwell. A Manhattan Project veteran, after the war Ted worked for Rickover and later authored The Rickover Effect. An actor plays young Rockwell in the documentary. Sadly, Ted passed away in March 2013. He would have been delighted with the film. 


To learn more, visit Manifold Productions' website. "Rickover" will be screened at the GI Film Festival in Alexandria, VA on May 24 at 4:15 PM at the Old Town Theater, located at 815 1/2 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.  

Recent Additions to "Voices of the Manhattan Project"


Will Lowe was studying chemical and metallurgical engineering when World War II began. He was assigned to Los Alamos as part of the Special Engineer Detachment and began by assisting physicist Arthur Wahl. Lowe recalls working with Wahl on the process for purifying the plutonium for the "Gadget" and the Nagasaki bomb and talks about the safety procedures they used to minimize risk of radiation exposure. Lowe later worked on building new reactors, laboratories, and other support facilities at Hanford. He worked in the nuclear power industry for many years and shares his experience of being in the control room during the Three Mile Island incident.


Russell Jim is a member of the Yakama Nation near the Hanford site and serves as the head of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation's Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Program. Jim discusses the impact of the Manhattan Project on the Yakama Nation people and the environmental impact of the radioisotopes that were released into the areas surrounding the B Reactor and the Columbia River. He explains the history and importance of the land and natural resources to the Yakama people. 




Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube