Nerses Krikorian: My name is Nerses Krikorian, N-E-R-S-E-S K-R-I-K-O-R-I-A-N. I was born in Harput, Turkey in 1921, January of 1921, to Hachig and Lucy Krikorian. Somehow or another they extricated me from the genocide which was prevailing and in a four-year period managed to get me from Turkey, where I was born, through Aleppo, where my brother was born.
Nerses “Krik” Krikorian was born in Turkey in 1921. He was brought to North America at the age of four, escaping the aftermath of the Armenian genocide. After graduating from college, Krikorian worked for Union Carbide in Niagara Falls, NY during World War II. In 1946, he was approached to work at Los Alamos to build polonium initiators for one year. He ended up staying in Los Alamos, where he still resides today, and even helped to write the charter to govern the town. In this interview, he remembers his childhood and experiences as the eldest son in an immigrant family.
Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. I have with me Lydia Martinez. My first question for you is to say your name and spell it.
Lydia Martinez: Lydia L-y-d-i-a G. Martinez M-a-r-t-i-n-e-z.
Kelly: Can you tell us what the G stands for?
Martinez: Gomez. We have the Gomez Ranch also.
Kelly: Tell me about the Gomez family. How far back does it go?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is January 30th, 2017. We’re in Washington, D.C., and I’m with John Coster-Mullen. I want to start by asking him to say his name and spell it, please.
John Coster-Mullen: John Coster-Mullen, J-O-H-N C-O-S-T-E-R-M-U-L-L-E-N.
Kelly: Great. Some have called you “Atomic John.”
[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Willie Atencio: Eula, you went to school in Española, right? Española?
Eula Quintana Newton: Yes, I did.
Atencio: You were the valedictorian of your class?
Quintana Newton: That’s right.
Atencio: The Class of 19—
Quintana Newton: ’42.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and we are in Los Alamos, New Mexico. It’s February 2, 2017. I have with me W. Stanley Hall.
Hall: I was born in 1924 on Broadway in Manhattan. I was there until the third grade. In the fourth grade, I went to the Bronx and was there one year, and then went to Princeton, New Jersey, and stayed there until graduation from Princeton High School. Actually, we lived in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Across the street was Princeton, but I went to Princeton High School.
Cindy Kelly: Today is February 3rd, 2017. I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Clay K. Perkins. I would like him to first say his full name and spell it.
Clay Perkins: It’s Clay, middle initial K for Kemper, last name Perkins. C-L-A-Y K P-E-R-K-I-N-S.
Kelly: Tell us about who you are. Where are you from? When were you born, how you got interested in science?
Alexandra Levy: We are here on December 27th, 2016, in Florida, with Russell Gackenbach. My first question for you is to please say your name and spell it.
Russell Gackenbach: My name is Russell E. Gackenbach. G-A-C-K-E-N-B-A-C-H.
Levy: Please tell us your place and date of birth.
Gackenbach: I was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, March 1923, on March 23.
Russell E. Gackenbach was a navigator in the 393rd Bombardment Squadron and 509th composite group. He flew on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions. His crew flew aboard the Necessary Evil, which was the camera plane for the Hiroshima mission. Gackenbach photographed the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima. His crew flew again during the Nagasaki mission as the weather reconnaissance plane for the city of Kokura.
Raemer Schreiber: Yes, there was at least one [bomb core], and people back here worked furiously taking the plutonium as it arrived and converting it into another core. I don’t know the answer to it. I have heard stories another core was on its way out at the time of the surrender.
Richard Rhodes: Groves decided not to ship it. I’ve seen the document.