Atomic Dawn III (Nuclear Age)

Lead: With the first sustained nuclear reaction in December, 1942, the Roosevelt Administration decided to harvest the energy of the atom by creating a weapon so powerful that it might possibly bring an end to World War II.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The executive director of the Manhattan Engineer District, the project to build the bomb, was Brigadier General Leslie Groves. He in turn chose J. Robert Oppenheimer, Professor of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley who assembled the team that solved the theoretical and scientific problems associated with the bomb. Groves also selected a naval ordinance officer, Captain William S. "Deak" Parsons to tackle the construction and delivery of the weapon.

 

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Atomic Dawn II (Nuclear Age)

Lead: Scientists had discovered the atom's nucleus, had determined that it was made of protons and neutrons and had split it, but it remained to put these discoveries to use. In the early 1940s, a team under Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago set out to create a sustained nuclear reaction.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: From an early age, Enrico Fermi demonstrated a quick grasp of science. Born in Rome, as a child he began to read everything on which he could get his hands. His entrance exam to college was considered prodigious and within eight years after high school he had received his doctorate and was the youngest full professor in the history of the University of Rome. Fermi combined a deep interest in theoretical physics with a practical orientation toward experimenting. Having both tendencies was rare.

 

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Atomic Dawn I (Nuclear Age)

Lead: The road to Hiroshima began in earnest not on Tinian or in Los Alamos or Chicago or Princeton, but in pre-war Nazi Berlin.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: By the mid-1930s scientists had determined that the nucleus of the atom was not a single unit of matter but was made up of protons and neutrons. Neutrons, because they have no electrical charge were being used to explore the nature of the atomic nucleus. The Italian physicist Enrico Fermi began bombarding various elements with neutrons in 1934 and had concluded that relatively moderate changes could be made in the nucleus of one substance if hit with streams of neutrons from another.

 

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Voyage of Death III (USS Indianapolis)

Lead: In the closing days of World War II, the cruiser USS Indianapolis, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Most of the 1100 sailors survived the sinking only to die floating in the open sea.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Once the survivors of the Indianapolis had been rescued from their five day ordeal, the U.S. Navy had a big problem. Critics in the general public, the press, and on Capitol Hill were asking how it was that the Navy could lose a major fighting ship and essentially consign 500 sailors to a watery grave. The criticism could not have come at a worse time. The war, which began with the sneak attack on a naval installation, was about to end amid swirling controversy over the most severe sea disaster in American naval history. To make matters worse the Navy was fighting for its independence. There were forces in the Administration and in Congress who wanted to combine the armed forces into a single Department of Defense. To combat this threat to naval autonomy the Navy did not need to be fending off accusations of negligence.

 

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Voyage of Death II (USS Indianapolis)

Lead: Having delivered components of the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island in the Pacific, the cruiser, USS Indianapolis, sailed west to its duty station near the Philippines. Its sinking by a Japanese submarine began the worst sea disaster in American naval history.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After leaving Tinian, Captain Charles B. McVay, III, made a refueling stop at Guam before embarking on the final stage of the voyage. In the normal course of departing the port, McVay was not told that four Japanese submarines had been sighted in the area through which he must sail and that the destroyer USS Underhill had been sunk in an encounter with a sub in the same area. Also, General orders insisted that ships ziz-zag in war zones but since that maneuver on occasion might be more dangerous than speedy transit in a straight line, McVay and other commanders were given the option that if the weather were overcast or stormy they could choose not to execute the time consuming process of ziz-zagging.

 

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Voyage of Death I (USS Indianapolis)

Lead: At 8:00 AM on July 16, 1945 the USS Indianapolis, carrying components of the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima, glided through the Golden Gate. Destination: Tinian.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Captain Charles B. McVay, III was a graduate of the Naval Academy, the son of an Admiral. On short notice, he received orders to carry the nuclear cargo while directing the final stages of repair to damage inflicted on the Indianapolis in a nearly fatal kamikaze attack off Okinawa Island earlier that year. The ship was ready but the crew was filled with a large number of inexperienced new men. McVay wanted more time to train but the Navy needed a bomb delivered and his fast cruiser was available.

 

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Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Building Permanently

Lead: Unemployment. Hunger. Fear. America was in the grips of the Great Depression. In record time, the new Roosevelt administration created the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Corps was designed to put to work on public improvement projects a large number of young men facing bleak prospects for employment. By July, 1933 there were nearly 300,000 men at work in 1300 camps. Qualifications were that a man must be between 17 and 28 years of age, single, without a job, in good physical condition and in need. All participants were volunteers and signed up for a minimum of six months. They could stay, in most cases only for two years, and most stuck it out although the desertion rate ran about 5%. The men were paid $30 per month with most of it sent home to their families. By 1935 a half million were enrolled and in its nine years of existence, nearly three million served in the Corps.

 

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The Man Pursued by War (McLean) II

Lead: In 1861 the first major battle in Virginia took place in the front yard of Wilmer McLean along Bull Run Creek. Seeking to protect his family from the fighting he moved them to south central Virginia.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: It was not uncommon for civilians to remove themselves from areas of intense fighting. Up to this point war was, for the most part, left to soldiers. As the war intensified Federal generals such as Sherman in Georgia and Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley made destruction of civilian property a matter of military policy. Sherman, in particular, boasted that he had destroyed $100,000,000 in property during his dash from Atlanta to Savannah in the fall of 1864.

 

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