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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Philip S. Anderson, Jr.’s Interview

Philip S. Anderson, Jr. lived in Oak Ridge from his second-grade year through his junior year of high school. His father, an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was responsible for housing at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project; his mother was active in the Oak Ridge community. In this interview, Anderson remembers his childhood in Oak Ridge, describing the level of secrecy in the city and hikes with his friends. He also recounts his reaction to the bombing of Hiroshima and his fond memories of being a Boy Scout in Oak Ridge.

Ernest Tremmel’s Interview

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.

Leroy Jackson and Ernest Wende’s Interview

Leroy Jackson and Ernest Wende were transferred into the Manhattan District, the branch of the United States Army Corps of Engineers tasked with overseeing the construction of critical Manhattan Project sites, shortly after its formation in 1942. They both lived and worked at Oak Ridge during the war and were closely involved in the design and construction of the site’s thousands of residential units and cafeterias and recreational facilities, as well as the Y-12 and K-25 Plants and the X-10 Graphite Reactor. Their work required close coordination with private architectural and engineering firms, like Stone & Webster and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. They discuss the power structure of Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project, the restrictions imposed on Oak Ridge residents for the maintenance of secrecy, and the compartmentalization of building projects. They also explain the challenges of life in Oak Ridge and how the government had to step in to provide maintenance and services.

Robert S. Norris’ Interview (2013)

In this interview, Robert S. Norris traces the chronology of the Manhattan Project from its inception in 1942 through the early years of the Cold War. Dr. Norris, author of “Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project’s Indispensable Man,” talks about the crucial role of General Groves, whose energy and determination impelled the Project forward at an incredibly quick pace. Norris also discusses the controversial decision to drop the bomb on Japan and the Soviet atomic program that developed shortly after the end of World War II.

Vincent and Clare Whitehead’s Interview – Part 1

Vincent (“Bud”) Whitehead and Clare Whitehead met during their time at the Hanford site. Bud was a counterintelligence officer assigned to Hanford to prevent the intrusion of any spies; Clare was a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and worked as a secretary at Hanford and Richland. In this interview with S. L. Sanger, the Whiteheads talk about meeting and living in Hanford. Bud describes his experience as a counterintelligence agent and how he was recruited. He also talks about encounters with suspected KGB agents and a German skilled laborer. Clare Whitehead discusses how she came to be posted in Hanford.

Roger Fulling’s Interview (1986) – Part 1

Roger Fulling began working with the DuPont Company in 1934. During World War II he was a division superintendent in DuPont’s War Construction Program. He also served as acting Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Eisenhower Administration. In this interview, Fulling explains his respect for General Leslie R. Groves, as well as the hierarchy of DuPont staff supporting him. He remembers key DuPont personnel, including Granville Read, Mel Wood, Gilbert Church, Frank Mackie, and others. Fulling talks about the troubles in acquiring materials and skilled laborers for the Hanford construction project. He also explains why he believes American industry should be praised for its tireless work for the war effort.

Francis McHale’s Interview

Francis McHale was a security and safety man, a civilian, with the Corps of Engineers. He came to Hanford from the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works to set up fire and safety and police protection for the Manhattan Engineer District. McHale retired in 1972 as director of security for the Atomic Energy Commission at Hanford. In this interview, McHale recalls arriving at Hanford, his work in security there, and briefly elaborates about life at Hanford.

C. Marc Miller’s Interview

C. Marc Miller selected sites for the Army during World War II. In 1943, he was asked to prepare an area in the Priest Rapids Valley for acquisition. Part of acquisition was appraising landowners and compensating them accordingly; appraisals were so unjustly low that Miller resigned his Corps of Engineers position and offered landowners counter-appraisals.