The Atomic Heritage Foundation is gearing up for the spring tourist season at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. With a new "Ranger in Your Pocket" program for the B Reactor on "Know Before You Go," more than 10,000 profiles in our Manhattan Project Veterans Database, and 380 oral histories on "Voices of the Manhattan Project," we have many resources for visitors to enjoy!
MPVeteransMP Veterans Database Reaches Milestone
J. Robert Oppenheimer
The Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) is pleased to announce that our Manhattan Project Veterans Database now includes more than 10,000 profiles. The database is the most comprehensive list of Manhattan Project veterans online. 

Encompassing everyone from top-echelon scientists to construction workers, the profiles shed light on the thousands of people who worked on the secret World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb. Profiles range from Manhattan Project leaders J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves to Jane Amenta, a secretary and a member of the Women's Army Corps.

An estimated 500,000 people, or about one of every 280 people in the United States at the time, worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Through the profiles, visitors can encounter the stories of people such as the pioneering female scientist Leona Woods Marshall. The public can also learn about project staff such as Leonard Czarniecki, a procurement officer at Oak Ridge, TN, and view numerous photographs and documents provided by his family.

Leona Woods Marshall
Each profile shows where the veteran worked and the position he or she held. If further information is available about the veteran, AHF includes a brief biography, a timeline, and photographs and documents. Visitors can use filters to find veterans who worked at different Manhattan Project sites, from the scientific laboratory at Los Alamos, NM to lesser-known sites including Ames, IA and Dayton, OH.

Users can also search by role to find information about women scientists, engineers, members of the Special Engineer Detachment, and more. The database also includes profiles of some non-Manhattan Project veterans, such as early nuclear pioneers, German scientists who worked on Nazi Germany's efforts to develop the bomb, and American scientists and engineers who were involved in nuclear testing after World War II.

Jane Amenta
On March 25, the Atlantic published a terrific article on the Manhattan Project Veterans Database project. The article focuses on Leona Woods Marshall, the top woman physicist on the project. We are pleased The Atlantic and other media outlets have taken note of our ambitious efforts to expand our database and oral history collection.

The Manhattan Project Veterans Database would not have been possible without the generosity of veterans' family members, many of whom have shared information and photographs. This project was begun about 15 years ago by the late Michael Vickio who founded the Manhattan Project Heritage and Preservation Association. Alan Carr, historian of Los Alamos National Laboratory, generously provided material from LANL's archives, and Burt Pierard shared Manhattan Project-era telephone books from Hanford. Special thanks to AHF's interns, who have worked tirelessly to expand the number of profiles on the website.
KBYG"Know Before You Go"
The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to present a new "Ranger in Your Pocket" program called "Know Before You Go."  The B Reactor Museum Association (BRMA), founded in 1990 by retired Hanford engineers and scientists, created this five-part program for people who are planning to visit the B Reactor at Hanford, WA.

As AHF President Cindy Kelly explained, "The members of the B Reactor Museum Association (BRMA) want the public to have a meaningful experience when they visit the reactor. After leading dozens of tours in the B Reactor, BRMA members have observed that for first-time visitors the experience can be overwhelming.

Lise Meitner, who co-discovered nuclear fission
"To help people better appreciate how the reactor works, BRMA has created this selection of programs called "Know Before You Go." Now visitors can brush up on their understanding of the energy inside an atom, learn about the discoveries in science that preceded development of the atomic bomb, and watch animated graphics that show what goes on inside the reactor. These programs should help everyone have a better appreciation for the reactor and how it works. Their experiences at the reactor will be even more awesome!"

During the Manhattan Project, the B Reactor produced the plutonium that was used in the "Gadget" tested at the Trinity Site on July 16, 1945, and the "Fat Man" bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. It continued to operate for over twenty years after the war. 
BRMA members Maynard Plahuta and Hank Kosmata
Since tours became available at the B Reactor in 2009, more than 
10,000 tourists annually from all over the world have visited this icon of the Manhattan Project. With the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the number of tourists is expected to increase significantly. 

AHF is grateful to BRMA for their enthusiastic leadership of this project, especially BRMA President Maynard Plahuta and Vice President Hank Kosmata. AHF is also indebted to the City of Richland and the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust for their generous financial support that made this project possible. Thank you all for enriching the experience of visitors to the B Reactor!
NPFriendsAHF Attends National Park Friends Meeting
On March 15-16, Atomic Heritage Foundation President Cynthia C. Kelly and AHF staff attended the National Parks Friends Alliance meeting in Washington, DC. This biannual conference, organized by the National Park Foundation, brought together more than 130 people from the National Park Service (NPS) and partner organizations. Participants discussed the 2016 celebration of the National Park Service centennial as well as ways to support the parks, including the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

NPS officials emphasized the need for educational programs that reach young people and diverse audiences. The National Park System recorded a record-breaking 307.2 million visits in 2015, and will likely welcome even more visitors this year. 

The Friends meeting included updates on the popular "Find Your Park" campaign, which encourages Americans to visit national parks. The "Every Kid in a Park" initiative has been a great success with every fourth-grade student enjoying free access to the national parks this school year. Crowds of fourth-graders had a great time at the B Reactor on November 12, 2015, the first children under 12 allowed inside. 

What does this mean for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park? The three park units (Hanford, WA, Los Alamos, NM, and Oak Ridge, TN) can certainly expect more visitors in the years to come. Thanks to the establishment of the park, the B Reactor no longer has age restrictions so that families and school children can experience this landmark.

National park supporters around the country are planning special programs, exhibits, recreational activities, and much more to celebrate the centennial. A display on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and eight other national parks in Tennessee will open on April 21 at the Knoxville airport. 

During the centennial year and beyond, AHF will work with NPS and our partners in Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Los Alamos to keep the Manhattan Project National Historical Park moving forward. For the full article on the Parks Alliance meeting, please click here.
TibbetsManhattan Project Spotlight: Gen. Paul Tibbets
On August 6, 1945, then-Colonel Tibbets piloted the Enola Gay, the B-29 aircraft that dropped the "Little Boy" atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. The Hiroshima mission made "Paul Tibbets" and "Enola Gay" household names. Later, Tibbets became a polarizing figure in the enduring debate over the decision to drop the atomic bombs.

In the late 1980s, Gen. Tibbets co-produced a documentary with the Buckeye Aviation Book Company, "General Paul Tibbets: Reflections on Hiroshima." Joseph Papalia, official historian of the 509th Composite Group, recently shared a copy of the documentary with the Atomic Heritage Foundation, along with more than a dozen other interviews and oral histories from the 509th Composite Group Collection, now available here on "Voices of the Manhattan Project." 

While flying bombing missions over Europe during the early part of World War II, Tibbets earned a reputation as one of the best pilots in the US Army Air Force. He returned to the United States in February 1943 to assist with the development of the B-29 Superfortress bomber. On September 1, 1944, he was briefed on the Manhattan Project. Tibbets was selected to lead the 509th Composite Group, an organization of about 1,800 men tasked with dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.

Tibbets recalled feeling "tremendous responsibility...I learned this as I worked with the people at the Manhattan District, particularly Dr. Oppenheimer and the people at Los Alamos. They were perfectionists. I saw that in everything that they did. Well, I wanted to be a perfectionist."

To prepare for the mission, Tibbets and the 509th Composite Group trained extensively at Wendover Air Force Base in Wendover, Utah. Flight crews practiced dropping large dummy "pumpkin" bombs modeled after the shape and size of the atomic bombs.

In the summer of 1945, the 509th deployed to Tinian Island, the base for U.S. B-29 raids on Japan and the launching point for the atomic attacks. At 2:45 AM on August 6, 1945, Tibbets and his flight crew departed North Field on Tinian for Hiroshima. At 8:15 AM local time, the plane dropped "Little Boy" over the Japanese city. Tibbets remembered: "I made that turn and leveled that airplane out. My tail gunner, sitting in the back, says, "Here it comes," meaning, "Here comes the shock wave," and that's what we wanted. When the shock wave hit me, I said, 'There is success.'"

Immediately after returning to Tinian, Tibbets was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration the U.S. Army can bestow for exceptional valor, by Major General Carl Spaatz. Three days later, the "Fat Man" plutonium bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered, bringing World War II to a close.

Tibbets after receiving the DSC
Many Americans consider Tibbets a hero for his role in ending the war. Others are very critical of his role, pointing to the more than 200,000 people estimated to have been killed directly or indirectly by the Hiroshima bomb's effects. For Tibbets, the mission was part of his job. "I can assure you, I have never lost a night's sleep on the deal."

Tibbets became commander of the Sixth Air Division and retired from the US Air Force in 1966 as a General. He died on November 1, 2007, at the age of 92.

Tibbets' recollections provide a dramatic firsthand account of the day the atomic bomb was first used in warfare, changing the nature of human conflict forever. For the full spotlight article on Gen. Tibbets, please click here.

AnnualReportAHF 2015 Annual Report Now Available
The Atomic Heritage Foundation's 2015 annual report is now available online. Highlights include:
  • The Manhattan Project National Historical Park was officially established in a November signing ceremony in Washington, DC;
  • AHF met in NYC in May with the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and other Japanese officials to discuss the interpretation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park;
  • AHF launched new "Ranger in Your Pocket" programs on Hanford's Pioneers and Los Alamos;
  • In June, more than 300 people, including almost 20 Manhattan Project veterans, attended our 70th anniversary events.
If you would like a hard copy, please email us with your address and we will be glad to mail you one.

Voices"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently added to the Voices of the Manhattan Project website

Hans Bethe, Part 2: Bethe was a German-American physicist and Nobel Prize winner who led the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project and later had an important role in the development of the hydrogen fusion bomb. In this interview, Bethe explains why he opposed developing the hydrogen bomb and provides insight into the General Advisory Committee's decision to pursue it. He also discusses nuclear proliferation, which scientists may have influenced J. Robert Oppenheimer's thoughts on the hydrogen bomb, and the challenges of developing the H-bomb.

Norris Bradbury was an American physicist and director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1945-1970. During the Manhattan Project, Bradbury directed the implosion field test program and helped prepare the "Gadget" for the Trinity test. In this interview, Bradbury explains why he was selected to work at Los Alamos, and discusses his work on the plutonium implosion bomb. He recalls his interactions with Manhattan Project leaders J. Robert Oppenheimer, George Kistiakowsky, and Admiral Deak Parsons. Bradbury watched over the "Gadget" at the top of the Trinity test tower to ensure that no one "monkeyed" with it. He remembers his surprise when Oppenheimer picked him to take over as director of the laboratory, and the challenges he had to overcome to keep the lab running.

John De Wire was a physicist who was recruited by J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. In this interview, De Wire discusses how he was recruited, the move to Los Alamos, the organization and administration at Los Alamos, and the unusual speed with which scientists could procure items. He explains how he came to work at Princeton, and his involvement after the war in opposing Lewis Strauss's nomination for Secretary of Commerce. He recalls what made Oppenheimer such an effective leader.

German-American chemist Gerhart Friedlander fled Nazi persecution in 1936. He studied at the University of California with Glenn Seaborg, earning his Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry in 1942. The following year, he joined the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos and became group leader of the radioactive lanthanum group in the Chemistry Division. After World War II, Friedlander worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory for many years and chaired the Chemistry Department. In this interview, he describes how Seaborg secretly involved him in plutonium work and how his group investigated the implosion method for the plutonium bomb. He also recalls winning a bet with Enrico Fermi.

Dr. Clarence Larson, a chemist, began working under Ernest O. Lawrence in his lab at the University of California, Berkeley in 1942. In 1943, he moved to Oak Ridge and was appointed head of technical staff for the Tennessee Eastman Corporation. He later served as director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and as a commissioner on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. During the Manhattan Project, Larson designed a process to recover and purify uranium deposits from the walls of Calutron receivers at the Y-12 Plant. In this interview, he explains the importance of this innovation in producing enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb. He also describes the challenges encountered in the Y-12 Plant's early days, as well as Lawrence's leadership skills and unyielding confidence.

Donald Ross worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of California-Berkeley and the Y-12 Plant for Tennessee Eastman. In this interview, Ross discusses supervising "Calutron girls" at Y-12. He explains how the electromagnetic separation process for separating uranium isotopes worked, and recalls the tight security at Oak Ridge. Ross also describes the social life at Oak Ridge, meeting his wife, and the terrible food in the mess halls. He discusses his views on dropping the bomb on Japan and how his thoughts have changed over time.

Ernest Tremmel was a civil engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project for the Army Corps of Engineers, as a purchasing officer. He went on to work for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) for many years and as a nuclear energy consultant. In this interview, Tremmel discusses the secrecy of the Manhattan Project and how he learned the goal of the project. He recalls interacting with General Leslie R. Groves, Admiral Hyman Rickover, and other AEC commissioners as well as directors of energy companies. Tremmel explains what made this period, and the quest to build nuclear reactors, so exciting. He also remembers witnessing a nuclear bomb test after the war.

Harry Allen and Robert Van Gemert worked in procurement at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. In this interview, the pair discusses getting ready for the Trinity test, the challenges of using Jumbo, and how materials were transported safely and secretly in and out of Los Alamos. They remember helping to acquire the lead-lined tanks used to transport scientists to the blast zone after the Trinity test. Allen and Van Gemert also discuss the dormitories at Los Alamos, how the Town Council handled problems, and the secrets of PO Box 1663. They recall their interactions with leading scientists including Emilio Segre, Enrico Fermi, and Edward Teller.

Thanks to all the Manhattan Project veterans, their families and many others who have supported our efforts over the past 14 years. We look forward to working with the National Park Service and the three sites as the new park takes shape. Please make a donation to support our continued efforts. Thank you!

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