Way Back When...1896
This week in history boasts the birthday of the military head of the Manhattan Project, as well as the end date of the top-secret research project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II.
Lt. Gen. Leslie Richard Groves Jr., a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer, was born in Albany, N.Y. on Aug. 17, 1896. Groves graduated fourth in his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and, in August 1941, went on to oversee the construction of a gigantic office complex to house the War Department's 40,000 staff which would ultimately become the Pentagon. The following year he took charge of the Manhattan Project, which had begun in August 1942, and Groves was involved in most aspects of the atomic bomb's development.
Groves personally selected J. Robert Oppenheimer as leader of the Los Alamos laboratory, disregarding the man's Communist associations and waiving his security clearance process, according to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.
Groves was known for his critical and stubborn attitude, egotism, intelligence and drive to achieve his goals at all costs.
He continued to lead the Manhattan Project until atomic energy affairs were turned over to the newly created civilian Atomic Energy Commission, which officially abolished the project on Aug. 15, 1947.
After the war was over, Groves stayed in the military for several years before retiring from it in 1948 and moving to Darien. He went on to serve as vice president of the Sperry Rand Corporation and as president of the West Point alumni association.
Groves died in Washington, D.C. on July 13, 1970.
The year Lt. Gen. Leslie Richard Groves Jr., the military head of the Manhattan Project, was born.