This April, the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the Los Alamos Historical Society launched a new online "Ranger in Your Pocket" program on the Hans Bethe House. See below for more details.

April also marked the anniversary of J. Robert Oppenheimer's birthday. As director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer proved to be an extraordinary choice.

Many of the Manhattan Project veterans we have interviewed for our "Voices of the Manhattan Project" website recall working with Oppenheimer at Los Alamos. Here are a few selections from Jim Schoke, Roy Glauber, Robert Christy and others. You can also listen to a 1965 interview with Oppenheimer by journalist Stephane Groueff here.

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HansBethe Hans Bethe House Program Launches

Master Cottage Number One, 1942. Photo courtesy of the Los Alamos Historical Society.
Enjoy the new "Ranger in Your Pocket" program  on the Hans Bethe House at Los Alamos!

AHF President Cindy Kelly explained, "During the Manhattan Project, two famous scientists lived in the Hans Bethe House. This program gives a unique glimpse into life at Los Alamos with first-hand accounts."

The Hans Bethe House is now the Harold Agnew Cold War Gallery of the Los Alamos History Museum. Formerly called Master Cottage Number One, it was the first residence built by the Los Alamos Ranch School. 

The quaint cottage has been home to eminent scientists. During the Manhattan Project, Edwin and Elsie McMillan moved into the house with their young daughter, Ann. When they moved out, Hans and Rose Bethe moved in. Both Edwin and Hans would go on to win Nobel Prizes for their scientific contributions.
Elsie, Edwin, Ann, and Dave McMillan in California, 1946. Photo courtesy of Ann Chaikin.

After the war's end, the home was assigned to chemist Max Roy, who lived there for almost 50 years and served as director of the Weapons Division at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, now Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In 2013-14, philanthropists Clay and Dorothy Perkins purchased the Hans Bethe House and donated the property to LAHS, which has transformed it into a gallery with exhibits on Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project and Cold War.

The "Ranger" program covers the history of Master Cottage Number One from its Ranch School days through today, along with other memories of life at Los Alamos. After the Manhattan Engineer District acquired the school in early 1943, the buildings were turned into homes for top-echelon scientists and military leaders. Master Cottage Number One went to Edwin and Elsie. They lived right next door to J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was given Master Cottage Number Two.
The vignettes include a recording of Elsie McMillan giving an imaginary tour of the Bethe House: "Now we're on Bathtub Row. This is our home. Isn't it attractive? Ed, isn't this a gorgeous living room? Oh, my goodness, what a big fireplace." Her vivid stories provide a lively perspective of life at Los Alamos.

Hans and Rose Bethe lived in Master Cottage Number One after the McMillans. As LAHS Executive Director Heather McClenahan explains, "Because of his greatness as a scientist, his greatness as a teacher, his greatness as the conscience of Los Alamos, we have called this the Hans Bethe House to honor him."
Hans and Rose Bethe at the 1967 Nobel Prize Ceremony. Photo courtesy of Cornell University.

AHF plans to develop a full suite of Manhattan Project tours on the responsive  "Ranger in Your Pocket" website. Visitors to the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park can use their smartphones and tablets to access these self-guided tours.

For the Hans Bethe House "Ranger" program, AHF is very grateful for a generous donation from Clay and Dorothy Perkins. Thanks to Craig Martin for his help with supplying historic photos for the production, and to Ann Chaikin, Stephen McMillan, David McMillan, and James Bradbury for providing family photographs. For the full article on the Hans Bethe House program,  click here.
HonorFlight HonorAir Flight Brings Oak Ridge MP Veterans to DC

Clockwise from top left: Velva Irwin, Hugh Barnett, Louise Keaton & Sarah Archer
On April 5, 2017, AHF staff enjoyed meeting four Manhattan Project veterans from Oak Ridge who participated in an HonorAir Flight Knoxville program. The veterans were  Velva Irwin Hugh Barnett Sarah Archer , and  Louise Keaton .

Irwin and Keaton were "Calutron girls" who worked at the Y-12 plant. Archer was a nurse monitoring the radiation levels of the Calutron operators. Barnett, who at 100 years old is the oldest ever Honor Air Knoxville participant, joined the Manhattan Project in New York before transferring to Oak Ridge, where he served as maintenance supervisor at the K-25 plant.

Honor Flights, organized by nonprofits around the country, bring World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to Washington, DC to visit the national memorials that pay tribute to their sacrifices. This flight, the 23rd organized by HonorAir Knoxville, carried more than 130 veterans from East Tennessee, including 22 World War II veterans. After arriving in Washington, DC, the veterans visited the United States Air Force Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, the Marine Corps Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery.

AHF's Cindy Kelly, Alexandra Levy, and Nathaniel Weisenberg met the veterans after they came off the bus at the National World War II Memorial. We enjoyed speaking with Hugh, Velva, Sarah, and Louise about their Manhattan Project experiences. For the full article about the Honor Flight, click here .
RememberingFDRRemembering Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Flag at Trinity Site at half-staff in remembrance of President Roosevelt.
On April 12, 1945, just as the Allies neared victory in Europe and as the war in the Pacific was reaching a bloody climax, the United States was shocked by the sudden death of its longest serving president:  Franklin Delano Roosevelt . Later that day,  Harry S. Truman  took the oath of office and became the 33rd President of the United States. 

There was an air of uncertainty throughout the ranks of the Manhattan Project. It was Roosevelt who first authorized the bomb. He was instrumental in getting corporations such as DuPont to participate. No one knew for sure where Truman would take the project. 

J. Robert Oppenheimer scheduled a memorial service at Los Alamos the Sunday after Roosevelt died. He delivered a terse eulogy in which he proclaimed, "We have been living through years of great evil and great terror. Roosevelt has been our President, our Commander-in-Chief, and in an old and unperverted sense, our leader. We should dedicate ourselves to the hope that his good works will not have ended with his death."

For more reflections on President Roosevelt, read the full article here or visit  Voices of the Manhattan Project.
ForknerIn Memoriam: Tom Forkner
Tom Forkner
We are sad to report the passing of our friend and Manhattan Project veteran  Thomas Forkner Sr.  on April 26, 2017. He was 98 years old.

Forkner was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941. He worked as a counter-intelligence agent before being recruited to the Manhattan Project. In an interview with AHF , he described arriving in Tennessee without knowing his role in the Manhattan Project. "I got these instructions to report to Knoxville, Tennessee. I didn't have any idea what I was doing. Somebody met me when I got off the train, took me to Oak Ridge."

Forkner held positions at both Oak Ridge, Tennessee and at the Manhattan Engineer District headquarters in New York. His primary responsibility while stationed at Oak Ridge was to transport valuable products from the Tennessee facility to Los Alamos, a drive that took over 53 hours.

After the war, Forkner returned home to Georgia. In 1955, he opened the first Waffle House with his partner Joseph Rogers. The restaurant chain has become iconic, with over 1,500 locations across the country. Forkner was also an accomplished golfer and was listed as a top 10 senior golfer by Golf Digest four times. He was inducted into the Georgia Hall of Fame in 2007.

You can watch Forkner's oral history  on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website.
HistoryRoundupHistory Article Roundup
Here are three of the articles on World War II and nuclear history we enjoyed most in the past month:
A spotter at a British anti-aircraft gun site, 1942. Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.


These Rare Color Photos From the Second World War Are Incredible: The Imperial War Museum in London has published a remarkable collection of rare color photographs from World War II. 


The Behind-the-Scenes Story of an Unplanned Meltdown at America's First Nuclear Power Reactor: Atlas Obscura describes the meltdown at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I in Idaho in 1955.


The President and the Bomb, Part IIIHistorian Alex Wellerstein continues his series on whether there are any checks on the President's ability to order a nuclear attack.

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

Rachel Erlanger  worked in a Kellex Corporation chemistry lab in New Jersey, where they researched gaseous diffusion barriers and other processes critical to the development of the K-25 plant. She got involved in the Manhattan Project when responding to an ad for Kellex. As a chemist, she recognized uranium-235 as the material used in an atomic bomb. In this interview, she describes how she got involved in the Manhattan Project, her excitement at contributing at that time, and how her attitude turned more negative after the war. She recalls her and her mother's experiences during the prewar era and the pressure for women to marry and have children. She also briefly discusses her husband Bernard Erlanger, who also worked on the Manhattan Project.

Lydia Martinezfrom the neighboring community of El Rancho, worked at Los Alamos in various jobs during and after the Manhattan Project. She first worked as a baby-sitter and housekeeper for families such as the Fermis, Tellers, and Critchfields. She was also a junior technician in the X-7 group. After the war, she remained at Los Alamos National Laboratory, working in various units and finally retiring as a property administrative specialist. In this 2009 interview, she remembers her duties at Los Alamos and what it was like to be one of the younger women who worked there. She describes how she continued to keep ties with various families over the years, and recalls how she received the Laboratory's Distinguished Performance Award.

Nick Salazar  is a longtime Los Alamos National Laboratory employee and New Mexico State Representative. He has remained close to Los Alamos his entire career, from spending his high school summers as a mess hall attendant during the Manhattan Project to becoming a member of the laboratory's Board of Governors. In this interview, he discusses his numerous experiences with the laboratory, including his 42-year career as a research scientist and his goal of improving relations between the laboratory and northern New Mexico's communities. He also recalls traveling to the Savannah River Site as part of Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines's famous experiment that discovered the neutrino.

Isabel Torres  worked at Los Alamos during and after the Manhattan Project. She commuted from the neighboring community of Santa Cruz, first by truck, then by bus. She worked in the administration office and as a classified mail messenger. In this interview, Torres remembers how her job granted her access to different areas of the laboratory. She mentions interactions with soldiers and prominent scientists, including Edward Teller. She also describes working at S-Site as a technician, and recalls the poor condition of the roads.
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