May 2015

What a week it's been! Our Manhattan Project Veterans Reunion and Symposium were a great success, bringing together Manhattan Project veterans, experts, and families from across the country for a two-day event. Around 300 people attended, including 17 Manhattan Project veterans, most of whom traveled hundreds of miles to attend.


Many thanks to those who attended and participated, especially the Manhattan Project veterans who made the events so special!

In This Issue
Manhattan Project Veterans Reunion

Manhattan Project veterans and AHF staff. Photo by Ray Smith.


On Tuesday June 2, 2015, Manhattan Project veterans and their families gathered at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Manhattan Project. More than a dozen veterans from across the country took the stage to discuss their role in the Manhattan Project and how sites at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Hanford, Chicago, and New York City contributed to the top-secret effort to build the world's first atomic bomb.


Lawrence S. O'RourkeWilliam E. Tewes, and James Forde recalled working at Columbia University's top-secret gaseous diffusion research facility in the Nash Garage Building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. "We were tasked with developing a special barrier that could separate the fissionable uranium-235 isotopes from the more abundant U-238," remembered O'Rourke.


Forde, the lone African-American at the facility, was responsible for cleaning the laboratory equipment and had no idea what scientists were working on. On Tuesday, he was reunited on stage with O'Rourke and Tewes. "Thanks for finally telling me what I was working on!" Forde quipped.


Seventeen Manhattan Project veterans attended the events. Shown in the photo above, from top left: AHF President Cindy Kelly, Robert JS Brown, Ben Bederson, James Schoke, Lawrence S. O'Rourke, AHF Program Manager Owen Pagano, Isabella Karle, Robert Carter, James Forde, Norman Brown, Irene LaViolette, Rosemary Lane, and William E. Tewes. Not pictured: Manhattan Project veterans Barbara Dresner, Dieter Gruen, Walter Goodman, Harris Harold Levee, Rex Edward Keller, and Will Lowe.


Manhattan Project Park Preview

ch, and Charles Oppenehimer at the events
Author Kai Bird, Senator Martin Heinrich, and Charles Oppenheimer at the events

The 70th anniversary events continued on Wednesday, June 3 with a daylong symposium featuring a discussion of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.


Richard Rhodes, historian and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, discussed the importance of preserving historical sites in his opening remarks. "We preserve what we value of the physical past because it specifically embodies our social past," Rhodes explained.


"That social reality is anchored to physical objects, extending far and deep into the physical world of landscapes, buildings, documents, machines and artifacts. These Manhattan Project historical sites are among the world's most significant, places where work was done that changed the human world forever."


Senator Martin Heinrich, who helped pass legislation that established the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in December 2014, echoed these sentiments in his speech to attendees and thanked veterans for their service to the nation.


Next, officials from the National Park Service and the Department of Energy discussed the timeline for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. They also fielded questions from the audience about how the complex history of the Manhattan Project might be interpreted. Patrick Gregerson, Chief of Planning for the National Park Service and Jamie Shimek, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Senate Affairs for the Department of Energy assured attendees that both departments would "welcome public participation" to reach a "balanced and inclusive interpretation" of Manhattan Project sites and their history. 


Other DOE and NPS officials visited Los Alamos last week to discuss the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. For more information about their visit, see this informative article by the Albuquerque Journal, Work on Manhattan Project national park will require extensive planning, cooperation


Manhattan Project Symposium


Author Marty Sherwin with Charles Oppenheimer, grandson of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Carolyn Lewis, granddaughter of General Leslie R. Groves
The symposium also featured panels with Manhattan Project veterans and experts discussing topics such as innovationsespionage, and women and the Manhattan Project.


Alex Wellerstein, a Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ delivered a fascinating presentation on some of the incredible innovations that came out of the Manhattan Project. "There were over 5,600 different inventions relating to the atomic bomb, with some 2,100 separate patent applications ready to filed - in secret," reported Wellerstein.


Robert S. Norris, General Groves' biographer
Robert S. Norris, General Groves' biographer

In a panel on espionage, Robert S. Norris, author of Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man, discussed the intelligence revolution initiated by General Leslie R. Groves that took security measures to unprecedented heights. "Groves wanted complete control," argued Norris, "and he achieved that by making sure everything was compartmentalized."


Inevitably, spies still slipped through the cracks. Manhattan Project veterans Ben Bederson and James Schoke discussed their encounters with Soviet spies, including Klaus FuchsTed HallDavid Greenglass, and George Koval. Schoke, who traveled to different Manhattan Project sites to train physicists how to use radiation detection equipment, remembered having lunch with Koval on a trip to Dayton, Ohio. "He was a nice guy!" recalled Schoke, "I never once suspected him to be a spy."


In the following session, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, co-authors of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, joined Norris to discuss the leadership of General Leslie Groves and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Charles Oppenheimer, J. Robert Oppenheimer's grandson, also participated in the discussion.


The ceremony closed with remarks from General Frank G. Klotz, the Department of Energy's Under-Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator. Klotz emphasized the importance of the Manhattan Project in shaping the ongoing efforts at the National Nuclear Security Administration today.


Thank You!


AHF President Cindy Kelly and Manhattan Project veteran William E. Tewes at the events. Photo by Ray Smith.
AHF President Cindy Kelly and Manhattan Project veteran William E. Tewes at the events. Photo by Ray Smith.
The Atomic Heritage Foundation would like to thank all of the veterans and their family members who helped make the event such an incredible success. To learn more about the veterans, visit our  Voices of the Manhattan Project website, which features interviews with many of the veterans and experts who spoke, including Larry O'Rourke, James Forde, Ben Bederson, Richard Rhodes, Robert S. Norris, and more. 


We are very grateful to our generous corporate and individual sponsors, who made the event possible. 


To access the event program, please click here 


Photographs & Video of Manhattan Project Events


Manhattan Project veterans Robert Carter, Robert JS Brown, Ben Bederson, and Norman Brown
Manhattan Project veterans Robert Carter, Robert JS Brown, Ben Bederson, and Norman Brown
The Atomic Heritage Foundation has created a photograph album on our website and Facebook page with pictures from the events. We will be adding more photographs in the next week. If you have any you would like to share, please email us!


Y-12 historian Ray Smith captured some wonderful photos of the events. Click here to visit his album.


Video of the events will be online soon on our website and with C-Span.

Manhattan Project Posters Now Available


The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce several product additions to our online store! In commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Manhattan Project, we are now offering embroidered hats that feature the unique Manhattan Project Pin design. This silver pin was presented to individuals who worked with the Manhattan Engineer District for over one year, while a bronze pin was given to those who had worked less than one year.


In anticipation of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park, we are now offering colorful posters of Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Hanford, and the Trinity Site in various sizes and framed and unframed options. The posters feature some of the Manhattan Project's most iconic images, including the Los Alamos Main Gate, the Chapel on the Hill, the B Reactor, and the Gadget. These vibrant designs are also featured on 5x7 notecards, which can be purchased in different varieties and come complete with envelopes.