The Manhattan Project

Enola Gay

Russell E. Gackenbach's Interview

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

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. 

Joseph Papalia's Interview

Alexandra Levy: This is Alexandra Levy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation here in New Jersey on June 13, 2016, with Joseph Papalia. My first question is to please say your name and spell it.

Joseph Papalia: Joseph Papalia, P-A-P-A-L-I-A.

Levy: Can you tell us where and when you were born?

Papalia: I was born August 20, 1936, in East Meadow, New York.

Levy: Can you tell us briefly about your life and career, and how you became involved in the 509th Composite Group?

The Hiroshima Mission

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's Lecture

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.

The Atomic Bombers

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's Tape to Joe Papalia

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's Interview - Part 2

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?

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