Yvonne Delamater: We are interviewing Felix De Paula for the Manhattan Project video. Thanks for coming here to give us an interview. Briefly tell me when and where you were born and something about your education and training.
Race for the Atomic Bomb
George Cowan: It's weighted so heavily in favor—not in favor of—but the emphasis on number one Los Alamos, and then Oak Ridge, and then Hanford, as the three secret cities or something. But the fact is the Met Lab at Chicago was enormously important. The Stagg Field reactor was historic in ’42, and its sort of dismissed.
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.
Cindy Kelly: Give me your name and spell it.
Graydon Whitman: My name is Graydon Whitman, G-R-A-Y-D-O-N W-H-I-T-M-A-N.
Kelly: Great. Okay, can you tell us a little bit about your background: where you’re from and how you happened to become part of the Manhattan Project?
Tinian Island was the launching point for the atomic bomb attacks against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. One of three islands in the Northern Marianas, Tinian is less than forty square miles in size and located approximately 1,500 miles south of Tokyo. The round-trip flight from Tinian to Tokyo took B-29s an average of twelve hours. This proximity to Japan is one reason Tinian served as the headquarters of the 509th Composite Group.
The birth of nuclear weapons occurred on July 16, 1945 at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico, 230 miles south of Los Alamos. Gadget (as the bomb was known) was an implosion plutonium bomb, like the one used at Nagasaki, and detonated with 20 kilotons of force, slightly more than the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Originally the test was to occur at 4 a.m., but it was delayed to 5:30 after an early morning thunderstorm. At 5:29:45, Gadget exploded and the Atomic Age began.