Al Zeltmann grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After being drafted into the Army during World War II, he was assigned to the Special Engineer Detachment and arrived at Los Alamos in 1944. After the war, he stayed at Los Alamos, and worked as a physical chemist at the Los Alamos laboratory for nearly 40 years. In this interview, he recalls his Manhattan Project work, including on the “RaLa” experiments with Gerhart Friedlander, and describes the relationship between the military and civilians on “The Hill.” He also remembers receiving some unusual instructions from a mail censor after his wife complained he “wasn’t very warm” in his letters.
Ted Rockwell arrived in Oak Ridge in 1943 after graduating from Princeton with a degree in engineering. Once settled, he joined the “Process Improvement Team”, a group of engineers tasked with monitoring and fixing problems at various plants across the site. Rockwell recalls life at Oak Ridge, describing the secret city as “a tremendous sociological experiment” where “kids who had never used any indoor plumbing and sons of Nobel laureates all went to school together.” After the war, Rockwell worked with Captain Hyman Rickover to help develop the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.