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Interview with Byron Leo Ristvet, April 17, 2006


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Narrator affiliation: Containment scientist, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Dept. of Defense

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Ristvet, Byron Leo. Interview, 2006 April 17. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with Byron Ristvet April 17, 2006 Albuquerque, New Mexico Interview Conducted By Mary Palevsky © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Byron Ristvet April 17, 2006 Conducted by Mary Palevsky Table of Contents Introduction: birth ( 1947), family background, and education ( University of Puget Sound) in Tacoma, WA, graduate school at Northwestern University, enters U. S. Air Force ( 1973) 1 Work as USAF geologist on various projects: nuclear testing at Enewetak, and the MX and Minuteman missile programs 2 Work on Pre- Mine Throw Four ( 1974), Mighty Epic ( 1976), and Diablo Hawk ( 1978) at NTS 3 Leaves USAF and moves to DNA ( 1977- 1983) as containment geophysicist 5 Moves to S3 ( 1983- 1988) to work on PEACE, compares crater formation in the Pacific with that at the NTS, and talks about importance of understanding cratering in connection with protection of U. S. missile systems 6 Robert Taft’s story about Glenn T. Seaborg’s experiments on Mike ( 1952) 9 Recollections of Robert Campbell and William Ogle 12 Explains origin of military weapons effects testing: Edward Teller, Leo Szilard, the Einstein letter, and General Leslie R. Groves and the creation of AFSWP 13 Talks about military tradition of pre- nuclear weapons effects testing, creation of Sandia National Laboratories ( 1951), responsibilities of various government agencies 16 Military nuclear weapons testing: Operations Crossroads ( 1946) and Sandstone ( 1948) and other weapons effects experiments in the 1950s 17 Details high- altitude and space- simulation tests of military weapons 21 Talks about Marshmallow ( 1962) 24 Military weapons development, RNEP, and the policy of deterrence 25 Details different types of tests done by military: safety, basic phenomenology studies 26 Discusses the national laboratories and the necessity for maintaining them 27 Explains thermo- mechanical spall and systems- generated EMP 29 Talks about space- simulation effects tests done in above- ground simulators and underground tunnels 31 Details differences between American DoD and British MOD and “ civilian control quandary” over nuclear material and nuclear weapons 32 Discussion of history of containment: early testing, Baneberry 35 Details reasons for failures of tests such as Door Mist ( 1967) and Hudson Moon ( 1970) 38 Discusses importance of closures in underground testing: Diablo Hawk ( 1978), Huron Landing ( 1982), Misty Rain ( 1985), and Mighty Oak ( 1986) 40 Testing with a new kind of source and new test bed design after Mighty Oak 45 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 Concern about erosion of knowledge base in testing, possible return to testing, and proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world 46 Costs of underground weapons effects tests 50 Conclusion: Trinity— the genie is out of the bottle 51 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Byron Ristvet April 17, 2006 in Albuquerque, NM Conducted by Mary Palevsky [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Mary Palevsky: Thanks so much for meeting with me this morning, and if you could just begin by saying your name, place of birth, date of birth. Byron Ristvet: OK. Well, my name is Byron Leo Ristvet, and I was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1947, and went to school there. [ My] family had a long history of living in the Tacoma area; it goes back to when it was a territory, 1842. I just always had a knack for math and science. My dad was an architect, the first one in his family to go to college. Most of the rest of my relatives were either loggers or farmers. I do know how to milk cows and cut down trees and blow stumps. I was very interested in science and was good at it, and I thought I was going to go into chemistry. Then I had a[ n] opportunity to participate as a high school student in an NSF [ National Science Foundation]- sponsored summer science program at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, and so I did that; I guess it was between my sophomore and junior year. And I found I really liked geology, and I was kind of an outdoors person anyway, and so I went into geology as an undergraduate. I went to the University of Puget Sound for my undergraduate degree. Lovely school. I don’t think any undergraduate should go to a school that has more than 3,000 students, just because of the personal touches you get, and you really don’t need all that other stuff as an undergraduate. But anyway, when I went to undergraduate school was right at the start of Vietnam, ’ 65. I went through ROTC [ Reserve Officers Training Corps] just because otherwise I was going to get drafted and I figured it was better to go in as an Air Force officer than to go in as an enlisted UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 Army type. And my senior year of college, I had the opportunity to get what’s called an educational delay from active duty. I had applied for several graduate schools and I got accepted by all of them. I wanted to actually go to the University of Calgary [ Canada] but the Air Force didn’t think that was a good place to be. They didn’t know at the time, I had a permanent Canadian work visa because I had worked up there in the summers as a geologist. But I instead went to Northwestern [ University]. It probably turned out OK. I specialized in geochemistry, chemistry of coral reefs and also recent marine sediments. When I came on active duty in 1973, I got assigned to the Air Force Weapons lab and let me tell you, that wasn’t random. I fought to get an assignment there simply because I had a Ph. D. in geology and they wanted to make me an intelligence officer, and that’s very common. You’ll find a lot of geologists in the intel field because we know how to read air photos; that’s the mentality behind the assignment. And in general that’s good, but not if you’ve got a Ph. D. So I was supposed to come do environmental chemistry in a brand- new group assigned to the Air Force Weapons lab that was starting to worry about waste water and sewage and all the unique problems related to the military. In fact I was supposed to come down and work on chrome and wash water from washing airplanes. A lot of chrome comes off. It takes very little chrome to kill a sewage lagoon. I solved that problem. But because I knew a lot about coral reefs, they sent me out to Enewetak and Bikini to understand the large- yield nuclear craters. At the same time, as a basic geologist, there was a thing called the MX [ missile experimental] missile at the time and it was going to be a land mobile shell game kind of thing. They didn’t know [ 00: 05: 00] anything about these great big valleys of the western United States where the concept was we were going to locate them, and this was for nuclear weapons effects: depth of water, all these phenomena that affect the ground shock and those things. So I and about four UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 others, when I wasn’t doing Enewetak, I was running around mapping the geology of these big alluvial valleys. In fact there’s probably not too many square miles of Nevada I haven’t stepped foot in, doing that mapping, and also Arizona. And that would be to place the MX there? Yes. That’s where they would be— Yes, it was to see which valleys were the most suitable from geologic characteristics with respect to nuclear weapons effects, primarily the ground motion, because you wanted it in valleys with a deep water table so you didn’t get a reflection of the ground shock and things like that. I also worked on the geology related to the current Minuteman system at the time; we had a thousand Minutemen out there. And talk about foresight, one of the things we did in that study was to decide, if we ever did a reduction in force, which Minutemen we would get rid of first, and that was based on which were the most vulnerable to nuclear weapons effects. And that’s really controlled by the geology. So that affected the upgrade of the systems, some stayed Minuteman Two, some became Minuteman Three. And today with the drawdown, that was the purpose behind it. Then also, my first trip to the Nevada Test Site [ NTS] was in early 1974 to assist in getting ready for a nuclear weapons effects test out at Yucca Lake called pre- Mine Throw Four. And pre- Mine Throw 4 was 105 tons of nitromethane in a sphere and it was tangent to the surface of Yucca ( dry) Lake. At the time, the Air Force had a program where they were looking at using the big playas, the big dry lakes as alternate basing sites for the B- 52s and the KC- 135s because if we were involved in a nuclear exchange, they probably would not have a base to come UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 back to and so this was a place for them to land; this was just to gather basic ground shock, cratering, and ejective phenomena on a playa. And so we did that test. And of course while I was out there, we had another program going on. Of course in the early sixties through the beginning of the seventies, DNA, the Defense Nuclear Agency, tended to use technical directors from the Air Force Weapons lab, now the Air Force Research lab. That’s where I was assigned. And so we had a technical director assigned on a shot called Mighty Epic, which was an underground nuclear weapons effects test; a big structures program, an underground structures program. The first really big one since the days of Hard Hat and Pile Driver which were done in the sixties at the Nevada Test Site. This was to look at the feasibility of underground command and control facilities both from a defensive and an offensive nature, and also to look at the possibility of putting the MX in what they called the safe, secure facility, i. e. something that you couldn’t ever get at. I always found it funny, you know, it should’ve been called “ deep underground missile basing,” but then somebody would’ve looked at the acronym and realized what it was all about. DUMB. And it was. It was dumb? Yes. Why? Well, it’s just you couldn’t dig your way back out without somebody figuring out you’re digging back out and then they’re going to nail you. In terms of mitigation of the ground shock phenomena and all that kind of stuff and being safe and secure, fine. But where you get— you’re very exposed: all of your umbilicals to the surface, your antennas, all those kinds of [ 00: 10: 00] things, even for a command and control facility— unless you communicate through the earth or some way like that. But it was interesting and that’s how I started in the tunnels and that was in UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 like July of ’ 74. And so, you know, I knew a lot about ground shock from what I was working on at Enewetak and the Minuteman stuff and the MX stuff. And so we had a follow- on to Mighty Epic called Diablo Hawk. Mighty Epic was executed in ’ 76 and then Diablo Hawk [ 1978]. In the meantime, I had decided not to make a career of the Air Force and so I was going to separate in September of ’ 77. And I had worked a little on Mighty Epic, which was my experience in the tunnels initially. And you have to remember, the tunnels were no problem to me because I had worked in northern Canada as a geologist and did a fair amount of underground work, so I had been in a lot of mines, and so it just seemed kind of natural. I was originally going to go to an oil company, and I was actually going to go to the Chevron Oil Field Research Company in La Brea, California, at La Habra, California, Brea, California. And my wife was pregnant with our first child. Her mother lives here in Albuquerque [ New Mexico]. She sort of wanted to stay close. In ’ 77 inflation was going through the roof, especially the cost of houses, and Chevron and I were having a little discussion about either cost of living or a one- time housing allowance, which incidentally they from then on offered to people. You made them do it. But I went ahead and took a job at DNA which was open, and it was a containment geophysicist job— just as sort of a temporary thing and I figured, we’ll have our daughter and then I’ll run off to an oil company later. Well, I never did, but that’s beside the point. So for six years I did mostly the geology and the geophysics related to the containment of underground tests, but also these structures experiments that we were doing as add- ons. And I was involved in a fair number of other DNA programs, including still trying to understand the craters in the Pacific. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 And then in ’ 83 I went out and worked in private industry for five years. It was called S- Cubed , Systems, Science, and Software, which became part of Maxwell Labs and today the remnants are part of SAIC [ Science Applications International Corporation]. And all I did there was just a continuation of what I was doing as a government guy, except only on the Pacific, because we were planning this big program called PEACE ( Pacific Enewetak Atoll Crater Exploration). We actually went out with a drill ship and drilled the craters and all sorts of things and resolved how those craters really formed. At the time that was the biggest uncertainty in nuclear weapons effects, and if you took the conservative view about crater formation, it was driving the cost of MX, which was still in the planning stages. It hadn’t been cancelled yet. Explain that to me, why the uncertainty was driving the cost. Well, the craters in the Pacific were the only multi- megaton- yield craters anywhere in the world from essentially a surface burst. The craters were very broad and shallow craters, they were dish- shaped, whereas the craters that were formed from near- surface bursts and buried bursts out at the Nevada Test Site, not the collapsed craters, were bowl- shaped. And everybody thought, well, it’s because the low- yield- kiloton- type shots at Nevada [ 00: 15: 00] were caused by cold sources, i. e. the X- rays that come out of them are very cold; whereas out of a megaton- yield weapon they’re very hot in energy, and so the coupling was different, and so the calculations kept saying, no, they should be a bowl shape like in the Pacific. Well, some of us quickly realized, after we went back— and this is how I kind of got into this history stuff— I went back and started digging out all the old records at Los Alamos and [ Lawrence] Livermore and photographs— I mean literally down in dusty basements and everything else looking for this stuff— and realized very quickly that liquefaction was a big factor in this. And then I started digging back in some of our old HE [ high explosive] shots. We used to do air blast simulations up at a place called the DRES UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 site in Canada, Defense Research Experimental Station, and it was near Medicine Hat, Alberta, and very shallow, ground water out on basically glacial till, alluvial. And all those craters liquefied. And then we did some shots down at White Sands Missile Range [ New Mexico] and they liquefied. And I said, gee, you start off with a bowl- shaped crater and guess what? The ground around it is all liquefied and it just slumps in almost immediately and you end up with this big, shallow, broad crater. Not only that, but compaction takes place for weeks to years. And you know the people who really know about liquefaction are the Japanese and the people in Scandinavia where that’s a real serious building problem. In fact, the Dutch commonly fire high explosives over areas to pre- liquefy it and settle it before they build on it. In fact, they came over to observe some of our stuff because of that. So anyway, we resolved that question and the crater problem was resolved finally once and for all. But it’s funny, while I was a contractor, I was still a technical director for the Agency, even though I was paid on the outside. And the only reason I left and became a contractor was I wanted to try it, i. e. a little more money, in fact quite a bit more money; number two, I could dedicate my time because our underground test program was ramping up again at the same time, I had to do this Pacific thing. It was sort of like a quest I had to resolve, so I made that choice. I came back to the Agency in ’ 88 and I was requested to think about coming back because we had had a major containment setback in the tunnels in ’ 86 on a shot called Mighty Oak— And I want to understand that better. That’s one of my questions about what happened with Mighty Oak? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 Well, we’ll talk about that as best we can. And at the same time there was a real question about the Agency’s credibility to conduct these tests. And so I was pretty much wrapping up the Pacific work and so I agreed to come back. And even though I came back at sort of the top of the GS [ General Service] salary level, I did take about a 15 percent cut in pay. Let me understand one other thing about the importance of understanding— I want to make sure I’m getting this right. You need to understand what’s happening with the craters on these megaton tests because you need to protect our missile systems against a possible big Soviet attack? Right, and you also wanted to know how effective your offensive warheads were against the very hard targets that existed in the Warsaw Pact, mostly in the Soviet Union itself. And so the difference is, let’s say you throw a multi- megaton warhead with a surface burst, the Pacific data said it would have a radius maybe of 3,000 feet, so you’re inside the crater, whereas if you took the bowl- shaped stuff, that same let’s [ 00: 20: 00] say 5 megaton warhead would have a radius of about 1,200 feet. So the difference between 1,200 and 3,000- feet radius is huge when you look at CEPs, the circular error probable of a missile miss, that’s well within the CEP distances. So in one case you would say 100 percent damage probability; in another case you might say 50 percent. So resolving that made a big difference to both the targeteers and how we were going to design the MX missile system; if we put it in silos or in shelters as far as the effects against it. So you were talking billions of dollars in terms of spacing things and all this and that, which is why in ’ 84 finally the Office of the Secretary of Defense agreed to fund going out to the craters and drilling them. That was not cheap to take a ship out there, a commercial ship, and a fairly good- sized team of people, including a large number of excellent geologists and geophysicists from the U. S. Geological Survey [ USGS], in addition to ourselves, and do this really comprehensive UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 stuff. Those reports on the PEACE program are coming out finally. There’s a bunch of open file reports and a couple of classified reports and things like that; but as a USGS professional paper— very few projects from the survey get nominated to be professional papers but those are— and so they’re finally being published as professional papers. Interesting. And so by analyzing the crater, you can verify this liquefaction theory— Yes. Basically we verified that the craters were initially small, bowl- shaped. They didn’t stay that way for more than a few seconds because they’re highly unstable in this liquefied manner. That means the pre water supports the load, not the skeleton of the soil, and these are coral sands and gravels primarily, and they just flowed back into this bowl. But they actually continued to settle for up to a year. Now there were actually accounts of people, too. I went out and interviewed a couple of gentlemen who were on the edges of a couple of these craters right after they were shot, and of course one of them was Bob Taft who still lives in Las Vegas. Another was John Malik who had passed away about five years ago at Los Alamos. And they would go back to recover neutron experiments. And Taft had a hilarious story to tell, and he was a great storyteller, about on [ Operation] Ivy, Mike [ 1952], which was the first thermonuclear test and was expected to go somewhere around 10 MT and went at 10.4, and when I say “ around 10” I think five to twenty was the planning. And that was for safety reasons. And public safety was always of premier importance in all of these nuclear tests— I think people think we were bunch of, you know, cavalier cowboys out there. We weren’t. But anyway, Glenn Seaborg, the discoverer of plutonium— passed away now about three years ago, ’ 99 I believe— well, Glenn knew that there would be this tremendous flux of 14 MEV [ 106 electron volts] neutrons, the fast neutrons ( we can talk about that today; we couldn’t a few UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 years ago) from the fusion reactions, and he was very interested in transuranic elements, those greater than atomic number 92. And so he put out on a radial along a causeway where the line- of- sight [ LOS] pipe ( it was actually a box filled with helium) from Ivy Mike back to the island, a string of uranium balls, spheres, on a stainless steel rope. And I think they expected the crater to be about 2,000 feet in radius or so. There’s an old paper by Francis B. Porzell— another gentlemen who just passed away this year, and unfortunately I hadn’t seen [ 00: 25: 00] Fran in about fifteen years. He retired from the Navy [ Naval] Research Lab. But anyway, so they put these things out, and so Taft went back with Malik, and Taft was the radiation safety officer. Of course they left their badges on the boat because they knew they would max out, and they went back into a 5- to- 10- R [ Roentgen]- per- hour environment ( of course they didn’t spend more than about an hour on the island) recovering what are called foils which tell what the neutron fluence was or the neutron flux, whichever you want. And they’re usually foils of gold or arsenic or uranium, plutonium, things that are activated by the neutron flux where they tell you the energy plus the total number of neutrons. And you want to recover them typically as soon as you can because these are usually rapidly decaying daughter products, the activation products, and/ or fission products, so you want to look at them fairly quickly. Anyway, so they get back on the island, and Taft’s job, with a couple of Holmes and Narver guys was to recover this cable and get them back to [ University of California] Berkeley [ Radiation Laboratory] so that Seaborg could dissolve them and start analyzing. And so he did. And of course that’s how Californium and one of the other transuranics was discovered; and as Taft says, There I was out there recovering Seaborg’s balls. I just got a lot of radiation and he got a Nobel Prize. True story, and unfortunately Bob could tell it much UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 better than I can, but it’s well- documented. Even in the report, Bob did get credit from Seaborg for doing that. But anyway, that’s sort of a background leading up to that. But while they were on the island recovering the foils and stuff, there was quicksand everywhere. That’s because the island was still liquefying. In fact, where they recovered a lot of the stuff, six, seven days later was under water because it had settled, you know, five or six or seven feet. And it took days to months to even a couple of years before all this comes back into some sort of an equilibrium or steady state. But of course they didn’t measure the craters until several days afterwards. The earliest surveys were typically day- plus- three, day- plus- seven because ( a), you were busy doing other things— you were popping these things off about every four or five days during the test period— as a result, you had crews that were not available, even for the surveyors because they’d have to go reestablish some ground stations, you wanted the radiation environment to be down at a fairly low level, and so that’s what they did. But it was going back and digging out all the original stuff, including surveyor’s notebooks and stuff like that, and there were all these little innuendos about that these craters really did liquefy and so they were there. And the documents were at the labs basically, these things that you’re looking at? The photos were mostly with Los Alamos. There were some Livermore ones. There were some at DTRIAC [ Defense Threat Reduction Information Analysis Center], in those days called DASIAC [ DoD Nuclear Information Analysis Center], not well- cataloged at the time, not captioned very well, not identified very well. Still a problem we have. Los Alamos currently up in its archives probably has about a million- and- a- half negatives of just the atmospheric test period. We have about half- a- million at DTRIAC and about 20,000 films. Livermore doesn’t UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 really have a good handle on what they have, nor does Sandia. And you know nobody ever has any money to spend on archiving. Right. I got the chance to interview Bob Campbell before he died and he talked to me about how important those photographs from the atmospheric days were and how difficult it was to come upon particular ones. Father Campbell was really good at helping me when I went up there as a lieutenant- captain first [ 00: 30: 00] few times to Los Alamos, and you know Bob had a nickname at the test site as Sweet Old Bob because he could be that way. And I think all of the test group directors or test directors for the labs and even DNA, the guy I worked for was sort of that way. They had to be tough as nails in part, but at the same time most of them had hearts of gold underneath. Bob was certainly that way. I went up to Los Alamos, I wrote some letters, because I figured these photos had to exist. And so on my first trip up there, I go in and I meet this, you know, gentleman, Bob Campbell. Actually the first one I met was Bill Ogle, and Dr. Ogle was just one of these outstanding, outgoing, unbelievably brilliant guys. In the forward to a classified book called A Return to Testing, Johnny Foster wrote the preface, and Johnny put in it that Bill Ogle was equally at ease describing some complex scientific phenomenon to a craft worker out in the flats or in the tunnels as he was to the president of the United States. And Bill did both. And a very patient, very brilliant guy, and I wished I’d have known him better. He died a few years after I first met him. And he said, Well, the one you want to talk to is Bob Campbell, and you want to talk to John Malik, and you want to talk to Stirling Colgate. You want to talk to all these— and that’s how I got to know all these guys back in about ’ 75- ’ 76 time frame. So I felt very much at ease when I started working at the test site, because I knew the Los Alamos people. I knew the guys out at Livermore, not so much the testers but the UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 remnants of the old explosive excavation working group, which was the Plowshare guys: that was Milo Nordyke and Louis Circeo, and then I got to know Billy Hudson and Cliff Olsen who were containment guys. We exchange a lot back and forth and we have a really good working relationship. And I do with Sandia and we do with Livermore. It’s just they’re not as well- organized as we are, as Los Alamos is. So you want to talk about tunnels? Yeah. Just a general question about the military, to help me understand these effects tests, and then I want to talk about both containment and the kinds of things. We did two types of testing, starting way back, and the [ U. S.] Department of Energy [ DOE] under the Atomic Energy Act, the [ U. S.] Atomic Energy Commission [ AEC], the McMahon Act of 1946, November of ’ 46 which created the Atomic Energy Commission— I guess it was October— starting 1 January 1947, was concerned with the production and development of nuclear weapons. General [ Leslie R.] Groves realized that the military needed a central point to turn to for this, and he really didn’t want to turn nuclear weapons at the time, atomic weapons at the time, over to the control of the Navy or the Army. He felt that they were not ready to control them. Just because they didn’t have the knowledge yet? Yes. They were still thinking in World War II mentalities of conventional forces and this and that. Just like when we started World War II, we were using World War I tactics, and it cost us a lot of lives. [ 00: 35: 00] So Groves convinced Senator [ Brien] McMahon and others to create the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project [ AFSWP]. There was actually a lot of support from Vannevar Bush and James Conant and others that the military needed a sort of parallel group, and so it was UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 originally, here at Kirtland Air Force Base [ New Mexico], at that time Sandia Base. Kirtland was a base, but AFSWP was to the east of Kirtland, which was Sandia Base, and in addition another facility which became known as Manzano Base. But Groves was a man of great vision, there’s no doubt about it, and it was the idea of having the two groups was looked on. Anyway, effects testing really started in ’ 46 with Operation Crossroads. And it’s kind of interesting because at the time that the idea of, you know, the infamous Einstein letter to [ President Franklin D.] Roosevelt that was carried by [ Edward] Teller in part— And Szilard. Right. In fact Edward drove the car with Leo [ Szilard] and they went and delivered it to the president. They had an early meeting, and that early meeting consisted of Bush, Conant, the president of the United States, I believe Harold Ickes was present and was one of Roosevelt’s most trusted advisors, and then General [ George C.] Marshall and Admiral [ Ernest J.] King. And basically Admiral King, who was an ordnance officer, didn’t want anything to do with it because he didn’t want the Navy to look bad when it failed, because there was no way you could put that kind of energy into that small a package. And George Marshall basically spoke up and said, The Army will take it on and I know just the man to direct the program. And of course who was he thinking of? This was in ’ 43. He was thinking of Leslie Groves who— at that time the Pentagon was about 90 percent complete. Groves was not only a year ahead of schedule, but he was about two million dollars under cost, 1.7, something like that, which in 1943 was a huge amount of money. And you know it’s funny. Groves was never the dashing, classic military officer. He was a great civil engineer from the Midwest, son of a minister and a