Donald Ross: My name is Donald Ross, and I am about to begin my eightieth year on this planet. I was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and I left there with my parents at an early age. We moved to the southern tip of Texas, and had a little farm not too far from Edinburg, Texas, where I grew up.
Hiroshima & Nagasaki Missions
Stephane Groueff: Interview with Dr. Clarence Larson—L-A-R-S-O-N—head of the Union Carbide’s operations at Oak Ridge, a chemist. Dr. Larson was connected with the electromagnetic separation process during the war, and he was a personal friend of Dr. Lawrence [Ernest O. Lawrence]. He’s married to the daughter of Dr. Stafford Warren, who was also with the project. You came in 1942?
Dr. Clarence Larson: Yes.
Groueff: From where?
Tom Ryan: In the early morning of August 6, 1945, three B-29 bombers departed from Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean. Six hours later, they changed the course of history. A single atomic bomb dropped from the Enola Gay exploded over Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, over four square miles of the city and an estimated 90,000 of its inhabitants ceased to exist.
Walter Goodman: My name is Walter Goodman and I was born in 1922, which is a very long time ago. I was particularly interested in engineering and in the military from the time I was a young boy. When I did get into the service, I ended up continuing in school, and finished electrical engineering.
[We would like to thank Robert S. Norris, author of the definitive biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man, for taking the time to read over these transcripts for misspellings and other errors.]
General Leslie R. Groves: All right now what else is there?
Narrator: Apparently aloof from the rest of World War II, the solitary 509th, still unaware of its own purpose, carries on its puzzling training schedule. Their orders: practice runs to nearby islands. Then their own private missions to Japan, always above thirty thousand feet, always alone or in threes, always to drop just one bomb. Each time they must return to Tinian to face the ridicule of their fellow flyers. A poem is written in their dubious honor.
Jacob Beser: The story which we could tell. And one point that Dr. Wittman, though, which I wish you would please keep in mind—and this is true not only in this situation, but any historical event should be evaluated in the context in which it took place, the context and the times in which it took place. Hopefully we proceed from there and progress. Forty years later, we all had 20/20 hindsight and we also have had access to archives and information that we did not have forty years ago.
Interviewer: At two forty-five in the morning of August 6, 1945, the B-29 Enola Gay took off from North field on Tinian. Aboard the plane were thirteen men a thing called “the Gimmick.” Some fourteen hundred miles and six hours later, the Enola Gay reached her appointment with history. The time was fifteen minutes and seventeen seconds past 8:00 AM, just seventeen seconds behind schedule. The place: Hiroshima. The Gimmick, also known as Little Boy, was a uranium atomic bomb with the explosive power of twenty thousand tons of TNT.
Bob Caron: Oh, now for comments on Bob Lewis. I do not know what the hell to say about that, Joe. Bob calls me fairly frequently on his WATS [Wide Area Telephone Service] line, and I kind of feel like I am in the middle of something. He is very bitter, and very bitter towards [Paul] Tibbets. How justified it is I am just not sure. I do not know really the whole story. Bob is very emphatic when he tells his side of the story. When I mention some things, he just tells me, “Oh, you are too damn naïve.” Well, I know I am. Always have been.
William Downey: The depersonalization of the world, and what the Soviet Union does to their own people in mental hospitals in the process of destroying them, so all people would be destroyed everywhere. So, it is not the peace I want. It is not peace that I want. It is peace with justice. It is peace with freedom. It is peace that makes it possible for a man to dream his dream and stretch and strain and sweat to attain it. Without that, peace is a fraud and a delusion and a pretty word for tyranny. Do you follow me?