Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 24

These women workers leaving Y-12 were
photographed by Ed Westcott, famous
Manhattan Project photographer; and the lady
on the extreme left with her coat draped over
her arm was "Miss Atomic Bomb" in 1945.

Ruth Huddleston, 94, "still
doesn't like to think about
that part of it."

24

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

I

n early August 1945, as 19-year-old
Ruth Huddleston perched on a stool,
monitoring meters and dials on a
mysterious upright machine in what
is now the Y-12 National Security
Complex in the newly formed city of
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, her supervisor
announced that the U.S. had dropped an
atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
"And," he told Huddleston and the
other young female cubicle operators sitting side-by-side in the long, shot-gun
style corridor, "you had a part in making
that bomb."
It was the first time anyone had acknowledged what Huddleston and her
colleagues had been working on for the
past year.
By the time she got home, news of
the bombing had consumed the radio,
and the local newspaper was running the
headline "Oak Ridge Attacks Japan."
"They told about all the people that
had been killed," recalls Huddleston, now
94. "It was horrible, but we knew that that
would end the war. And my husband-tobe would have been over there soon if the
war hadn't ended."

But that didn't stop the rollercoaster
of emotions that gripped Huddleston for
weeks.
"I was happy and then I was sad and
then I was happy, and then I got to
thinking about it," she says. "I got to
thinking that I had a part in killing all
of those people and it really bothered
me. It bothered me for a long time after
that, but there wasn't anything I could
do about it. There would have been a
lot more killed if we hadn't dropped the
bomb. You just have to face reality, so
that's what I did. But I still don't like to
think about that part of it."

The Making of a Bomb
As soon as Brigadier Gen. Leslie Groves
of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was
appointed commander of the Manhattan
Project in 1942-three years into World
War II-he knew just where he wanted to
build the research and development site
for production of the world's first nuclear weapons. The property was secluded,
landlocked and far from the coast where
German and Japanese fighters could easily get to it. And the area's small popula-


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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover1
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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover3
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