Key player in atomic bomb to be discussed

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By Special to the Monitor

One of the most significant figures in the history of the Manhattan Project and the development of the U.S. nuclear weapons program may also be one of the least well known.


According to his biographer, Navy captain William S. “Deak” Parsons “made the atomic bomb happen. As ordnance chief and associate director at Los Alamos, Parsons turned the scientists’ nuclear creation into a practical weapon.

As weaponeer, he completed the assembly of “Little Boy” during the flight to Hiroshima. As bomb commander, he approved the release of the bomb that forever changed the world.

Over the past 50 years only fragments of Parsons’ story have appeared, in part because of his own self-effacement and the nation’s demand for secrecy.”

The Parsons story will come alive, however, during the month of December when the Los Alamos Historical Museum will display artifacts and the story of his fascinating life.  

His daughter, Claire Parsons, donated artifacts this year after they had been on exhibit at a Navy base in Norfolk, Va. Claire worked with the historical society and the Navy to get the items to Los Alamos for display as well as for the museum’s permanent collections.

On Tuesday, the Los Alamos Historical Society will host a special lecture on the life and times of Admiral Parsons, as a tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Bergen (Jerry) Suydam. The Suydams are being honored for their generous gift of the Oppenheimer House to the Los Alamos Historical Society.

Roger Meade, former archivist and historian for the laboratory, will be the lecture speaker. The evening, open only to members of the Historical Society, will begin at 7 p.m. with refreshments and the lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Pajarito Room of Fuller Lodge.  Book sales and a chance to view the exhibit will follow the lecture. Memberships are available at the Los Alamos Historical Museum and will also be for sale that evening at the door.

For more information, call 662-6272 or go to the website at www.losalamoshistory.org.