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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Lionel Ames is an Army and Manhattan Project veteran, who worked at Los Alamos. His is also the brother of Maurice Shapiro, who was a Los Alamos scientist. 

After two years of engineering college, Ames was drafted by the U.S. Army. He trained with the Army for about ten months before his brother, Dr. Maurice Shapiro, helped him get a transfer to Los Alamos. Shapiro had already been working at Los Alamos at the time.

In his interview on the Voices of the Manhattan Project website, Ames said that Los Alamos “was a wonderful place. I worked in the chemistry lab. I worked on the implosion part of the bomb.” Ames also discussed his role as a cantor for the weekly Jewish services in this secret city.

Ames worked at Los Alamos for about two and a half years. According to Ames, J. Robert Oppenheimer sent him a letter asking for him to stay on. Ames, however, did not accept because he wanted to return to Chicago to finish his industrial engineering degree.

Later, Ames became an entertainer and went into show business. With this career move, he changed his name from Lionel Shapiro to Lionel Ames. Eventually, he gave up acting to become an event planner.

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