Stephane Groueff: Yes, now we’re recording, Dr. Hilberry.
[Interviewed by Cynthia Kelly and Tom Zannes.]
Tell us your name.
Louis Turner: My name is Louis Turner. L-O-U-I-S T-U-R-N-E-R.
Louis Turner, a metallurgical engineer, first became involved with the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago in 1943. Turner worked at the “Dairy,” a codename for the place at the University where scientists researched methods to effectively can fuel elements for the nuclear reaction. After a brief stint at Oak Ridge working around the X-10 Graphite Reactor as a health-instrument scientist, Turner was transferred to Hanford where he spent much of his career conducting site surveys to monitor radiation levels in the surrounding area.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and it is Wednesday, July 22, 2014. Today I’m with Lawrence S. Myers, Jr. to talk about his Manhattan Project experience. I would like to start by asking Larry to tell me his full name and spell it please.
Lawrence Myers: My full name, Lawrence Stanley Myers, Jr. L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E, S-T-A-N-L-E-Y, M-Y-E-R-S. I’m not sure I know how to spell “Junior.” It’s just J-R.
Lawrence Myers was a chemist who worked at the Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project. In his interview, he discusses attending the University of Chicago, where he was invited to begin working on the Manhattan Project conducting experiments on uranium. He later moved to Oak Ridge along with a group of Chicago scientists. His wife joined him thanks to some chemistry coursework she had completed while in Chicago. Following the Project, Myers worked at Argonne National Laboratory before taking a position at the new medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Jack Hefner joined the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge in 1943. Hefner was a reactor engineer and helped supervise the construction of the X-10 Nuclear Reactor. Later, Hefner transferred to Hanford and worked as a shift engineer, where he monitored the B Reactor and ensured that its operation ran smoothly. Hefner also helped maintain Hanford’s sprawling facilities, including office buildings and houses in the 700 Area.
S. L. Sanger: This is Hefner on June 11, 1986, interviewed at his residence in Richland.
Jack Hefner: The plant at Oak Ridge was operating to make enough samples of plutonium, so they could learn how to separate here at Hanford. Very few people said a great deal about that and knew much about it. And we only had this manner of need to know. So all our job was keep the plant operating. And the operating people was crank the plutonium out the door.
Robert Holmberg: I’m Robert W. Holmberg, H-O-L-M-B-E-R-G, Bob Holmberg. And I like to tell people I’ve never had an honest job. I’ve worked for the Manhattan Project or its predecessors all my life. I’m an Iowan by birth; Fort Dodge, Iowa. As a little boy I was interested in chemistry. I went to college and got my degree at Ames, Iowa. Iowa State College then, it is Iowa State University now.
Robert Holmberg began working on the Manhattan Project at the Chicago Met Lab and at Ames Laboratory in Iowa. He was then drafted into the Special Engineer Detachment and sent to Oak Ridge. He describes his life at Oak Ridge, where he met his wife and settled down, and recalls what he and his colleagues thought of General Leslie Groves at the time.
Cindy Kelly: It is January 14, 2014, and we are in St. Louis, Missouri. And I want to ask the first question of you, which is to tell us your name and spell it.
Dunell Cohn: My complete name is Dunell Edlin Cohn, D-U-N-E-L-L. Edlin is E-D-L-I-N. And the last name is Cohn, C-O-H-N.
Kelly: Very good.