Lawrence S. O’Rourke began working on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University after he was called up from the Army Reserves in 1944. O’Rourke was among the first group of SEDs who worked at Columbia, where he helped research and develop the gaseous diffusion process for the separation of uranium. After nine months, O’Rourke’s group moved from the Pupin Physics Lab to the Nash Garage Building, where they helped develop the barrier material that would be used at the K-25 plant in Oak Ridge.
Nash Garage Building
Cindy Kelly: This is Cindy Kelly. It is September 6, 2013. I am in Oak Ridge, Tennessee with Bill Tewes. So Bill, can you tell us your name and spell it?
Tewes: Sure. My name is William Edward Tewes. And the first and second names are obvious, but to spell my last name, it is T-E-W-E-S. My father and my children all pronounce it “Tewes.” The rest of my older family, including my grandparents, pronounced it “Teweys.” And my Uncle Elmer would remark, “Any fool should know it’s pronounced Teweys because there are two E’s in the name.”
Susan Gawarecki: My name is Susan Gawarecki, spelled G-A-W-A-R-E-C-K-I, and today is April 3, 2013. I am at the home of Bill Tewes. And Bill, thank you for taking time to tell us about your life. To get started, would you please say your name and spell it.
William E. Tewes: My name is William Edward Tewes, T as in Tom E-W-E-S.
William E. Tewes worked on the gaseous diffusion process at the Nash Garage Building under Dr. Francis Slack, testing the barrier material. He recalls the Nazi invasion of Poland and how the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the country together. In July 1945 Tewes was transferred from New York, where he was working on gaseous diffusion, to Oak Ridge. He worked on the leak testing operation at K-25.
Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly of the Atomic Heritage Foundation. Today is Thursday, May 2, 2013. I have with me here James Forde, who is going to try to remember something about his Manhattan Project days in New York City. I am going to start with an easy question, which is to have him tell us his full name and spell it.
James Forde was a lab assistant in the Nash Garage Building, where scientists worked on developing the gaseous diffusion process. Seventeen year-old Forde was the lone African-American in the midst of PhD scientists. When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he immediately realized that his job cleaning pipes was related to the bomb.
Cindy Kelly: This is Cindy Kelly at Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is March 20, 2013 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. And we are delighted to have Larry O’Rourke. His first question is to tell us your name and spell it, please.
Lawrence S. O’Rourke: I am Lawrence S. O’Rourke, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-for Stephen O’Rourke, O-’-R-O-U-R-K-E. And, I like to be known as Larry.
Kelly: Perfect, Larry. Please tell us your birthdate and where you were born.
Donald Trauger: Yes, I’m Donald Trauger. And Trauger is T-R-A-U-G-E-R, Trauger. My mother-in-law when we first married would say auger, Trauger so she could remember it. [Laughter.]
Kelly: All right. Well, tell us how you came to Oak Ridge and how—what you did as your role in the Manhattan Project; where you were from and how you got involved.
Donald Trauger became involved in the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, working on the gaseous diffusion process. He discusses the science of isotope separation and also the decision to use the atomic bomb.