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.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is Santa Fe, New Mexico, Wednesday, October 12, 2016. I have with me Julie Melton. My first question for Julie is to say her name and spell it.
Julie Melton: I’ve been widowed twice, so I’ve had a lot of last names, but my maiden name was Hawkins. My father was at Los Alamos. Now my name is Melton, Julie Melton. Just to make it complicated, I’ve written books on democratization in the developing world, and I used my pen name Fisher for that. So it does get complicated.
Louis Hempelmann: I do not think the people who came later were ever as close as the people who were there at the beginning.
Martin Sherwin: Did most of the people who came later, were they junior people? That is, younger? [Enrico] Fermi came later.
Hempelmann: [George] Kistiakowsky came later.
Sherwin: He did? When you say “earlier” and “later,” what dates are you talking about?
Martin Sherwin: What was the set-up at Los Alamos, in terms of your relationship to the director [J. Robert Oppenheimer] and how you operated?
Louis Hempelmann: I was working directly under him. I started out with my wife as a half-time secretary, and the technician I brought with me from St. Louis, and Kitty worked for me.
Sherwin: What did Kitty do for you?
Hempelmann: Did blood counts.
Sherwin: Was she a good technician?
Hobson: One thing that used to happen to particularly interesting and sensitive papers was that Kitty would take them home, and then they would get lost. Lots of things went that way, including a whole batch of interesting tapes. It was very embarrassing because we had promised [Dean] Acheson that only one copy would be made, and we made two copies and we kept them. When he found out he was quite angry.
[To see an edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995, click here.]
Clare Whitehead: I got raised to Tech Sergeant, so he immediately got raised to Tech Sergeant. He said, “Well, we figured it was too bad we did not get married earlier. We would have been generals by the time we retired.” [Laughter]
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I am Cindy Kelly. I’m here in Albuquerque. It is Wednesday, October 12.
Hal Behl: Okay. I’m Harold Behl. B as in boy, e-h-l. Known as Hal.
Kelly: Okay. I just want to have you tell us when and where you were born and a little about your childhood.
Edwin McMillan: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start with two remarks. First, this is going to be a personal story, so if I use the first person singular, this is not pure egotism, it is simply the fact that that’s the part that I know best. Second remark is, the difficulty of establishing facts at such a late date, even of important things. During the Manhattan Project, of course, there was security impressed upon everyone, so very few people kept any notes.
Harold Cherniss: Well, you see, I was married on January 1, 1929, in White Plains. When we went back to Berkeley, it was immediately after that that I met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer. This is the time in which he had come to Berkeley the autumn before, just about this time. Taught one term in Berkeley, one term at Caltech. That’s when I first met him, and I met him because my wife had known him when they were children.
Martin Sherwin: Your wife’s maiden name?