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Uncle Jack: Manhattan Project and Beyond
The Manhattan Project: The Manhattan Project was an enormous undertaking that required the efforts of many of the world’s most brilliant intellectuals.
Hundreds of physicists, mathematicians, and engineers were needed to design, build, and test the world’s first atomic weapon and the Unites States government did everything in its power to lure these individuals to the Manhattan Project.
It was Personal: One of those assigned to the project was my uncle John Edmund Gray, a University of Rhode Island graduate with a brilliant mind.
John Gray grew up in the industrial city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
He had a strong interest in the field of engineering from a young age and not only was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project during World War II, but would later in life serve as an advisor to several presidents of the United States on the topic of Atomic energy.
John, known to close family, as Jack, was one of four children born in Rhode Island in 1922.
After high school he worked for one year at the Woonsocket Rayon Company, a local firm in the Rhode Island city where he grew up.
In 1943 he earned a B. S. degree in chemical engineering from the University of Rhode Island, where he worked several campus jobs to help pay expenses. After college John became a participant in the Manhattan Project.
Hundreds of men were assigned by the government of the United States to lend their minds to producing the first Atomic bombs, but the majority had no idea at the time what their skills were being utilized for since the project was beyond the level of “top secret”.
The eventual goal of the Manhattan Project was to find a way to end World War II, a conflict in which an estimated 50-70 million people were killed during the years 1939-1945.
Those involved were told by the United States government that they would serve their country not by flying a plane, picking up a rifle or diving to incredible depths in a submarine. Their “skill” would be their scientific knowledge in the areas of math, physics, and engineering.
My uncle was one of those who “gave his mind” to his country and in the end, helped save tens of thousands of American lives. Soldiers who would have died in the 1945 invasion of Japan.
After the war, John Gray went on to serve several presidents and become one of the leading advocates for Nuclear power, for peaceful and energy purposes, in the world. That included working with the Japanese on how nuclear power could help their energy needs in a post-war society. John Gray was regarded as a pioneer in the field of Nuclear energy, and saw first-hand the evolution of that power from war use to peaceful means.
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