After the activation of the 509th Composite Group in December 1944, some members of the group (including members of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, the unit's combat squad) went to Cuba for training. At Batista Field in San Antonio de Los Baños, the group trained for a month. They worked on long-range, over-water flights, in preparation for the long haul between Tinian Island and Japan. The avoided formation flights so crews would adjust to flying solo.
Security & Secrecy
Dan Robinson: I’m Dan Robinson recording this oral history for the Atomic Heritage Foundation on April 1st, 2016, here in Levittown, Pennsylvania.
Roslyn: My name is Roslyn Robinson. At times I use the initial “D,” because at one time there was another Roslyn Robinson and the mail was being mixed up. So, I’m either Roslyn D. Robinson or Roslyn Robinson.
Dan: What is your place and date of birth? Where were you born and what date?
Martin Sherwin: On June 5th, 1982. Well, now, John, why don’t you start and ask questions about the relationship with Cliff, because I think the [J. Robert] Oppenheimer relationship might be able to go on forever, and we’ll never get to your questions.
John S. Rosenberg: Okay. Well, first, how did you come to meet? What was the nature of your original coming together?
Rhodes: Well, I had started to ask you about the Korean War. Was that a shock? Did that worry everyone and accelerate your sense of pressure?
Taylor: I don’t think so. I don’t remember any feeling of pressure, that we had to do something by a certain time or else all hell would break lose. All I remember was excitement and anticipation and eagerness to know the result of something I had worked on.
Siegfried Hecker: Okay, I was just—a little bit more on the testing business. Again, I will not give you much because eventually, I am sure you will do all the research on this. There are some interesting dynamics in the testing business all the way around, because it is such an emotional issue. So hard drawn on both sides, almost a little bit like abortion. You just cannot seem to bring people together. They are either in one camp or in the other.
Richard Rhodes: Although again, I was struck in Russia with how different a world that was.
Ted Taylor: Oh, yeah.
Rhodes: How much more closely they were—
Taylor: That is why I am so thankful because in many other places people get shot.
Rhodes: Yeah. We could not even get directions on the street. Nobody wanted to talk to foreigners. Even now, partly, I am sure.
Taylor: Some of that is habit, I think.
[Many thanks to Claude Lyneis for donating this footage to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Narrator: About seventy-five miles northwest of Walla Walla, Washington, in an isolated expanse of open desert, civilization entered into a new age, an age from which it would never emerge the same. Here, in the home of the Wanapum Indians, the terrain is mostly scrubland, laced here and there by cheatgrass, greasewood, and Russian thistle.
Martin Sherwin: Did you know Robert [Oppenheimer] when he was going out with Jean Tatlock?
Chevalier: Yes, but I don’t think I ever saw them together.
Sherwin: When we first spoke over the phone, you called me from the airport about three or four years ago. I was living in Princeton, New Jersey.
Chevalier: Oh, yes. Yes, that’s right.
Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with John De Wire at Cornell University in his office at Newman Hall 228, Newman. Today is May 5, 1982.
You were with Robert Wilson’s group from Princeton that was recruited by [J. Robert] Oppenheimer in ’43, right? Late ’43, was it?
John De Wire: Early ’43.
Sherwin: Early ’43.
De Wire: I went to Princeton in February ’42.
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.