Groves, Leslie Richard

Groves, Leslie Richard,

1896–1970, American army officer and engineer who headed the program that developed America's atomic bombatomic bomb
or A-bomb,
weapon deriving its explosive force from the release of nuclear energy through the fission (splitting) of heavy atomic nuclei. The first atomic bomb was produced at the Los Alamos, N.Mex., laboratory and successfully tested on July 16, 1945.
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, b. Albany, N.Y., grad. West Point (1918). He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers and studied at the army engineering school (1918–20). Posted (1931) to Washington, D.C., he was promoted to captain (1934) and temporary colonel (1940). While he served (1941–42) in the Chief of Engineers office, his duties included supervising the construction of the PentagonPentagon, the,
building accommodating the U.S. Dept. of Defense. Located in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the Pentagon is a vast five-sided building designed by Los Angeles architect G. Edwin Bergstrom.
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Groves received the most important assignment of his career in 1942 when, after receiving the rank of temporary brigadier general, he was appointed commanding officer of the highly secret Manhattan Engineer District, better known as the Manhattan ProjectManhattan Project,
the wartime effort to design and build the first nuclear weapons (atomic bombs). With the discovery of fission in 1939, it became clear to scientists that certain radioactive materials could be used to make a bomb of unprecented power. U.S.
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, with a $2-billion budget and broad powers to tap the country's resources to develop, construct, and test the atomic bomb. He also established an air force unit to drop the bomb and a committee to recommend sites for its delivery. Promoted to permanent brigadier general and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945, Groves retired from the army in 1948. Subsequently, he was vice president in charge of research at the Remington Rand Corp. until his retirement in 1961.


See his Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project (1962); biographies by W. Lawren (1988) and R. S. Norris (2002).

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