The Manhattan Project was a great work of collaboration. More than 600,000 people around the country worked on the project, including African-Americans, Hispanics, and women (such as Sgt. Eleanor Blanchard, above). The Atomic Heritage Foundation plans to expand the resources on our website on the role of minorities and women in the Manhattan Project. Donate today to support this effort!

OppieRemembering Oppenheimer
April 22, 2016 would have been J. Robert Oppenheimer's 112th birthday. As director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer proved to be an extraordinary choice. Unfortunately, after the war, the FBI dredged up his early Communist associations and his security clearance was revoked, preventing Oppenheimer from influencing policy. Oppenheimer died in 1967 at age 62.

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. Also, you can listen to a 1965 interview with Oppenheimer by journalist Stephane Groueff on "Voices."

Haskell Sheinberg: "Oppenheimer was the one who really inspired all of us to interact with everybody else 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, to help others and be safe; he did stress that. Everybody tried to adhere to the way that Oppenheimer managed the lab."

James Schoke: "On my first train trip to Los Alamos, Oppenheimer's assistant invited me for wine, cheese, and conversation in Robert Oppenheimer's cabin. Here I am, a twenty-year-old at this point, and it was very exciting. 

"So I went, and apparently it was Oppenheimer's practice to do this on the train regularly. Seven men were standing around his compartment, talking and drinking. Of course there was no talk about the project or what we were doing or where were we going. Oppenheimer liked to recite poetry, and he recited some poetry. He invited me to call him "Oppie" when I was introduced to him.

"I was just absolutely amazed. This erudite man, who was so humble and willing to have a young twenty-year-old nobody as his guest. It really was a great experience."

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

Robert Christy: "Oppenheimer came around recruiting for Los Alamos. He asked if I would join him in Los Alamos. I said I would be delighted because like most of his students, I would more or less follow him to the ends of the earth. I was very pleased to be able to go and help him."

Dorothy Vanderford (Oppenheimer's granddaughter): "I see my grandfather as very brave and honest. My Dad has always been very clear that he was loyal and patriotic, in the genuine sense. I really do believe that, that he loved the country and loved what he was doing."
SecKerrySecretary Kerry Visits Hiroshima
Secretary Kerry and German Foreign Minister Steinmeier look at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.  Photo courtesy of the US State Department.
On April 11, 2016, Secretary of State John F. Kerry visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park. Kerry became one of the highest-ranking U.S. officials to visit the memorial dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Kerry and other foreign ministers recently attended a meeting in advance of the G-7 summit in Japan. The G-7 officials came together in Hiroshima and laid wreaths at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Japanese schoolchildren presented the officials with necklaces made from paper cranes, which symbolize the memory of the atomic bombs' victims.

After touring the museum, Kerry issued a statement: "It is a stunning display, it is a gut-wrenching display. It tugs at all of your sensibilities as a human being. It reminds everybody of the extraordinary complexity of choices of war and what war does to people, to communities, countries, the world." He went on to say that everyone should visit Hiroshima: "Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial. It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself."

Secretary Kerry and his G7 counterparts stand with schoolchildren after laying wreaths at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Photo courtesy of the US State Department.

Some Japanese bomb survivor groups have long pushed for the United States to apologize for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, which killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese. But the State Department made clear that no such apology was forthcoming. A senior State Department official explained, "If you are asking whether the secretary of state came to Hiroshima to apologize, the answer is no. If you are asking whether the secretary-and I think all Americans and all Japanese-are filled with sorrow at the tragedies that befell so many of our countrymen, the answer is yes."

In the past, other American officials have visited Hiroshima, including then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and former President Jimmy Carter after he left office. President Obama is said to be considering a visit to Hiroshima when he goes Japan in May for the G-7 summit. If he does, Obama would be the first sitting president to visit the city and the memorial.

The Atomic Bomb Dome
Clifton Truman Daniel, the grandson of President Harry Truman, encouraged President Obama to visit Hiroshima to "honor the sacrifice" and "listen to those who lived through" the attacks "so that we know how horrible that is and we remember and we don't do it again."

Daniel, who has visited Hiroshima, reflected on Truman's decision to drop the bombs: "I have tried never to see it as a right or wrong thing to do. There is no good decision in war." He continued, "My grandfather, having ordered the use of the weapons, was nonetheless horrified by the destruction they caused and spent a great deal of his presidency trying to make sure that we never used those kinds of weapons again."

In another interview, he added: "I think that Americans can still look at the decision and they can still say it was done for the right reasons. They can also say, 'Look what it cost.' They can have empathy. It doesn't take anything away."
HonorFlightVeteran Ralph Gates Participates in Honor Flight
On April 22, 2016, Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) staff were privileged to meet with Manhattan Project veteran Ralph Gates at the National World War II Memorial as he participated in a Utah Honor Flight program.

Gates served in the Army as a member of the Special Engineer Detachment at Los Alamos, NM. He remembers arriving at the secret town: "We came to a very prominent gate with a big sign up at the top. It said, 'The Los Alamos Ranch for Boys.' After I got inside the gate, I didn't get out until the war was over. The next day at 8:00 AM in the Tech Area, I was given a complete story on what we were there for.

"George Kistiakowsky, who was the head of the implosion device or Fat Man bomb, drew a great big circle on a blackboard and said, 'This is why you're here. We're making a new type of bomb.'" Gates worked at S Site on casting the high explosive shape charges that surrounded the plutonium in the core of the Fat Man bomb.

A bugler plays
 Taps at the WWII Memorial
Gates, thrilled at the opportunity to come to DC, was accompanied by Craig Sherman, a Vietnam War veteran. Sherman said that when the World War II veterans walked through the airport, people spontaneously stood up and applauded. "Witnessing that was incredibly moving."

The Honor Flight events in DC began with a ceremony at the National World War II Memorial, which AHF staff attended. The ceremony included a Color Guard, a wreath ceremony, a soldier playing Taps on the bugle, and a group photograph. Later in the day, Gates and his fellow veterans were taken to the FDR Memorial, saw the Drill Team practice at the Navy Memorial, and visited the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Ceremony, where they attended the changing of the guard. Before flying back to Utah on Saturday, they visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

AHF research assistants Rachel McBrayer and Sameera Kassam with Gates at the WWII Memorial
Honor Flights are organized by nonprofits around the country to bring World War II veterans to visit the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. They have 130 "hubs" in 44 states, and flew 20,886 veterans to DC in 2015. Each veteran is accompanied by a "guardian" - a friend or family member who helps the veteran during the trip. If you are a Manhattan Project veteran and would like to participate in an Honor Flight, please contact your local Honor Flight program.

For the full article on Gates's Honor Flight trip and Manhattan Project experience, please click here. To view photographs from Gates's visit and ceremony, please click here.
In Memoriam: William E. Tewes
We are sad to report the passing of our friend, Manhattan Project veteran William E. Tewes. Tewes died on April 19, 2016, at the age of 93.

Denise Kiernan, author of The Girls of Atomic City and a member of the Atomic Heritage Foundation's Board of Directors, remembers Tewes: "Bill was inexhaustible when it came to sharing his experience working on the Manhattan Project. He was incredibly generous with his time and his knowledge. I remember that whenever we spoke, he always made a point of discussing his wife's work contributions to the Project, as well. That made a particular impression on me. I'm fortunate to have known him."

Tewes majored in chemistry in college, and was also interested in physics and math. Soon after the United States entered World War II, Tewes was drafted into the military. Because of his science background, he was recruited into the Special Engineer Detachment, whose members worked on the Manhattan Project. Tewes was sent to Columbia University, where he worked on uranium enrichment, focusing on helping develop the barrier material for the gaseous diffusion process.

Tewes and Larry O'Rourke at AHF's 70th anniversary events in DC, June 2015
In July 1945, Tewes was sent to Oak Ridge to work on the leak testing operation at the K-25 Plant. He recalled, "I was just amazed at the size of K-25. It just almost is inconceivable that they could build a plant like that."

Tewes remained lifelong friends with his Manhattan Project colleagues, including Lawrence S. O'Rourke, Donald Trauger, and William J. Wilcox, Jr. 

In June 2015, Tewes and O'Rourke attended and spoke at the Atomic Heritage Foundation's Manhattan Project Veterans Reunion and Symposium in Washington, DC. They enjoyed seeing each other and the family members of other old friends, including Thomas Trauger, Donald's son. Tewes spoke to a packed audience about his experiences in New York and Oak Ridge during the war.

For the full article on Tewes, please click here. To watch interviews with Tewes about his life and Manhattan Project work, visit AHF's "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website.
LATimesLA Times on Manhattan Project NHP at Hanford
The Los Angeles Times has an excellent article on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford, WA. Written by LA Times travel reporter Christopher Reynolds, Facing difficult questions at the Manhattan Project's Hanford Site discusses what you will learn about and see on a tour at the Manhattan Project NHP at Hanford.

Reynolds describes going on a tour at the B Reactor, along with enthralled schoolchildren who enjoyed learning about the history and science of the reactor. The article also describes the other Manhattan Project and prewar properties that can be visited at Hanford.

Reynolds writes, "It's no easy job, teaching American history. But it's a responsibility the park service claimed decades ago, with backing from Congress and several presidents. And for parents whose kids are ready to start confronting the world's complexities, these historical parks are a chance to do that together." The article also includes a video about Hanford's history, a nuclear history timeline, tips for visiting the Manhattan Project NHP at Hanford, and information about the other park sites at Oak Ridge, TN and Los Alamos, NM.

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is pleased to see the Manhattan Project NHP covered by the LA Times, and looks forward to more national coverage of the park.
Voices"Voices of the Manhattan Project"
Here are some oral history interviews we have recently added to the Voices of the Manhattan Project website

Haakon Chevalier - Part 1: Haakon Chevalier was a French literature professor at Berkeley and close friend of J. Robert Oppenheimer. In this interview, Chevalier discusses aspects of Oppenheimer's personal life, including his romantic relationships and family, hobbies including learning Sanskrit, and religious views. He recalls how Oppenheimer became involved in politics on the Berkeley campus. He also discusses who was present for his infamous conversation with Oppenheimer, in which Chevalier told Oppie he knew a way to pass scientific secrets to the Soviets. This conversation played a key role in Oppenheimer's security trial in 1954.

Hanford 25th Anniversary Celebration: This program was recorded at the 25th anniversary of the construction of the B Reactor, the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor, in Hanford, WA. Leading Manhattan Project scientists, including Glenn Seaborg, John Wheeler, Lombard Squires, and Norman Hilberry, as well as its military leaders, General Leslie R. Groves and Colonel Franklin Matthias, participated in the ceremony. They discussed the start of the Manhattan Project, how the reactor's site was chosen, and other information about the project.

J. Samuel Walker is the former historian of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the author of "Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan." In this interview, he describes the motivations behind President Truman's decision to authorize the use of the atomic bombs. He explains the key differences between "traditionalist" and "revisionist" interpretations, and identifies weaknesses in each perspective's argument. He also assesses the role of the Soviet declaration of war against Japan, whether the Japanese were ready to surrender before the bombs were dropped, and American plans for an invasion of mainland Japan. Walker concludes by recalling President Truman's reaction to the human impact of the bomb.

Raymond Grills was a DuPont physical chemist who worked at the Met Lab and later at Hanford during the Manhattan Project. While at Hanford, he was one of two men who invented the canning process that sealed uranium slugs for use in Hanford's water-cooled nuclear reactors. In this interview, he describes the challenges and pressures he and his colleagues had to overcome, and explains why the canning had to be designed perfectly. He also describes humorous encounters with a machinist and a railroad porter while transporting uranium slugs.

The Search for Atomic Power: This 1954 radio program traces the development of nuclear energy from the discovery of the atomic nucleus to the launch of the USS "Nautilus," the first nuclear submarine. It includes narration, dramatizations with actors playing physicists Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr, and interviews with Arthur H. Compton and Westinghouse Electric Corporation scientists. The program celebrates Westinghouse's role in producing uranium for the Manhattan Project and details the challenges behind powering the Nautilus.

Bill and Louise Cease: Bill Cease worked in the 100 and 300 areas at Hanford, working as a patrolman and later as an operator at B Reactor and D Reactor. His wife Louise accompanied him to Hanford, and worked at Penney's. In this interview, Bill discusses how he came to work at Hanford in 1944 after working in Bridgeport, PA, at the Remington Plant making explosives. Bill elaborates on the various roles he had at Hanford, what working conditions were like, the technical aspects of his work, and his reactions to the bomb. Bill and Louise also discuss social life at Hanford, what the living conditions were like, and how the dust impacted them.
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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