Leslie Groves

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Lieutenant General Leslie Richard Groves, Jr. (17 August 1896 – 13 July 1970) was a United States Army Corps of Engineers officer who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and was in charge of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II. As the son of a United States Army chaplain, Groves lived at a number of Army posts. He graduated fourth in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1918 and was commissioned into the United States Army Corps of Engineers. In 1929, he went to Nicaragua as part of an expedition whose purpose was to conduct a survey for the Inter-Oceanic Nicaragua Canal. Following the 1931 Nicaragua earthquake, Groves took over responsibility for Managua's water supply system, for which he was awarded the Nicaraguan Presidential Medal of Merit. He attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1935 and 1936, and the Army War College in 1938 and 1939, after which he was posted to the War Department General Staff.

In 1940 Groves, who "had a reputation as a doer, a driver, and a stickler for duty", became special assistant for construction to the Quartermaster General, tasked with inspecting construction sites and checking on their progress. The construction program was dogged by bottlenecks, shortages, delays, spiralling costs, and poor living conditions at the construction sites. In August 1941, he was charged with responsibility for a gigantic office complex to house the War Department's 40,000 staff, which would ultimately become The Pentagon. In September 1942, Groves took charge of the Manhattan Project. He was involved in most aspects of the atomic bomb's development. He participated in the selection of sites for research and production at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington. He directed the enormous construction effort, made critical decisions on the various methods of isotope separation, acquired raw materials, directed the collection of military intelligence on the German nuclear energy project and helped select the cities in Japan that were chosen as targets. Groves wrapped the Manhattan Project in security but failed to prevent the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from conducting a successful espionage program that stole some of its most important secrets.

After the war, Groves remained in charge of the Manhattan Project until responsibility for nuclear weapons production was handed over to the United States Atomic Energy Commission in 1947. He then headed the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, which had been created to control the military aspects of nuclear weapons. Groves realized that in the rapidly shrinking postwar Army he would not be given any assignment approaching in importance the one he had held in the Manhattan Project, and he decided to leave the Army in 1948. He was promoted to lieutenant general just before his retirement on 29 February 1948 in recognition of his leadership of the bomb program. By a special Act of Congress his date of rank was backdated to 16 July 1945, the date of the Trinity nuclear test. Groves went on to become a Vice-President at Sperry Rand.

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