The Manhattan Project

Hiroshima

Al Zelver's Interview

Patricia Simpson: I am Patricia Anne Simpson and I am recording this oral history for the Atomic Heritage Foundation on May 3, 2017, in Studio B of the Visual Communications Building at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. Please say your name and spell it.

Al Zelver:  My name is Al Zelver. It’s spelled Z, as in zebra, E-L-V, Victoria, E-R.

Simpson: Please tell us your date and place of birth.

Zelver: My date was July 2, 1920, and I was born in Stockton, California.

Larry DeCuir's Interview

Cindy Kelly:  I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. This is Wednesday, February 22, 2017. We’re in Encino, California, and I have with me Larry DeCuir. I first want you to tell me your full name and spell it, please.

Larry DeCuir: Laurence Edwin DeCuir. L-A-U-R-E-N-C-E, Edwin is E-D-W-I-N, and DeCuir is D-E-C-U-I-R. It translates to “of leather” in French. If you go to Montreal, you’ll see a lot of shops with my name on the window. I don’t own those shops. They handle leather.

Nancy K. Nelson's Interview

Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. I am in Riverside, California. It is Tuesday, February 21, 2017. I have with me Nancy Nelson. I’d like her to say her name and spell it.

Nancy Nelson: My name is Nancy Nelson, N-A-N-C-Y N-E-L-S-O-N.

Kelly: Tell me a little bit about yourself, so we can put this in context.

Nancy K. Nelson

Nancy K. Nelson is the widow of Richard H. Nelson, who was the VHF radio operator when on the Enola Gay on the Hiroshima atomic bombing mission. In this interview, Nelson discusses how she met her husband after the war. She describes his experience training to be radar operator and in the 509th Composite Group. She recalls how he and other members of the missions felt about the atomic bombings.

Milton Levenson's Interview

Cindy Kelly:  Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly, I’m in Alexandria, Virginia. It is January 9th, 2017. I have with me Milton Levenson. My first question to him is to please say his name and then spell it.

Levenson: My name is Milton Levenson. No middle name. M-i-l-t-o-n, and Levenson is L-e-v-e-n-s-o-n.

Kelly:  Terrific. At any rate, let’s begin with the beginning. Tell us, if you would, when you were born and where, and something about your childhood.

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?

Jean Bacher's Interview

Jean Bacher: Ruth Valentine said, “I shall take Ruth [Tolman]’s desk.” She always saved letters. She had marvelous long letters from Robert, you know, especially at the time of the hearings. I knew they were just terribly close and shared a great deal. On the drawer of the desk, she’d said, “Destroy these.”

Martin Sherwin: You saw it happen? 

Bacher: I didn’t see her burn it, because at that time we still burned and they just threw them out in the burner in the back yard.

Japan

Japan was one of the Axis powers in World War II. Its attack on Pearl Harbor, HI, on December 7, 1941 brought the US formally into the war. Japan also attacked British, Dutch, and American possessions in the Southwest Pacific around the same time.

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