6 Replies Latest reply on Jun 3, 2021 3:08 PM by Edward Galvin

    Names of Crew Members on Atomic Bomb Planes to Tinian

    Edward Galvin Wayfarer

      I am looking for the names of crew members on the plane that flew components of the Atomic Bomb from Kirtland AF to Hamilton AF and the names of crew on the planes that then flew from Hamilton to Tinian Island.  The pilots are clearly identified in books and online, but not the crew. My father, Navy Seaman 2C Robert F. Galvin, was stationed at Mare Island, San Francisco at the time, and when he was in the hospital dying of cancer in 1952 he let it slip to two of his brothers that he had been on a plane with the atomic bomb.  I have his service records from NARA, but nothing in those records indicate that he never left the U.S., except block 22 on his separation document - Foreign and/or Sea Service – which is checked “yes”. I know neighbors and friends were approached by the Navy in 1945 and asked questions about his drinking and integrity because he had been “recommended for a secret mission and it was necessary that he be able to keep a secret.” We couldn’t resolve this before my mother passed in 2000, but I would like to get an answer one way or another for my children. Thanks in advance for any advice and help.

        • Re: Names of Crew Members on Atomic Bomb Planes to Tinian
          Jason Atkinson Ranger

          Dear Mr. Galvin,

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

           

          Flight manifests and passenger lists were not retained as permanent records.  It is exceptionally unlikely that there are any be surviving records records which would allow you to place your father on a specific flight.

           

          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Other Naval Activities, 1/1/1939 - 1/1/1949 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) that may include the muster rolls for Mare Island. Muster rolls would not indicate which flights he took, but may indicate if he was temporarily transferred to another command. For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

           

          Ancestry has digitized records Muster Rolls/Personnel Diaries (crew rosters) of U.S. Naval Ships and Stations for the dates of January 1,1941 thru January 1, 1949 and can be viewed online at U.S., World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949. There may be a fee for this service. Instead, you may wish to check with your local public or university library as these institutions often provide free access to Ancestry.com.

           

          We hope this is helpful.

          • Re: Names of Crew Members on Atomic Bomb Planes to Tinian
            Elliot Schneider Ranger

            Edward,

             

            Looked at the many different planes and crews of those planes that carried to Atomic bomb during those bombings and Robert F. Galvin dose not show up on any of those crew lists. Just to give you an idea of what I'm viewing they even showed the men that were allowed on as an journalist, and "scientific observer".

             

            Might want to look more into the "Manhattan Project" here are some details what transpired. Your father may have been on a ship or may have helped facilitate the loading of theses parts on the ships.

             

            Here is another great read on the Naval Involvement in the nuke project.

            https://www.history.navy.mil/about-us/leadership/director/directors-corner/h-grams/h-gram-052/h-052-1.html

             

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Alberta

             

            Manhattan Project

            Perhaps one of the most important functions Kirtland Field served during World War II was as a transportation center for the needs of scientists developing the atomic bomb in Los Alamos. The Manhattan Project personnel in Los Alamos first became aware of the value of the location of the air base during the process of converting the atomic bomb into a practical airborne weapon. Because Kirtland Field was the closest large airport, its runways and bombloading pit supported the atomic bomb program during 1944 and 1945. It also became an important staging ground for the ferrying of men and material to various field sites.

            From Kirtland Field, Manhattan Project scientists were flown back and forth to Wendover Army Air Base for testing in a disguised "Green Hornet" aircraft. Members of the USAAF made similar trips from Wendover through Albuquerque to Los Alamos. A special Manhattan Engineer District, Military Police unit was located at Kirtland Field to guard facilities used to load Los Alamos–assembled ordnance and test shapes on Silverplate aircraft. The loading pit constructed at Kirtland Field, although primitive and manually operated, operated until December 1945, when a hydraulic lift was installed.

            On 16 July 1945, at Kirtland Field, two B-29 Superfortress observation planes had set out early in the morning with instructions from Oppenheimer to steer a course at least 15 miles west of the atomic detonation point, Trinity Site. Because of thunderstorms, the planes dropped from 23,000 to 18,000 feet before circling the Trinity Site during the first atomic bomb detonation. While "The Gadget" underwent field-testing at Trinity, the nuclear components for the bombs and the active materials were being sent piecemeal to Tinian. Shortly before the bomb testing at the Trinity site, components of Little Boy were driven from Los Alamos to Kirtland Field and then flown to San Francisco. This included some of the U-235. From San Francisco, they were transported to Hunters Point to board the cruiser USS Indianapolis, bound for Tinian. Following that, the Fat Man plutonium core and its initiator were driven down to Albuquerque. They left Kirtland Field on 26 July and were flown in a C-54 Skymaster to Tinian, where they arrived 28 July.

             

             

            Additional information that may be useful

             

            A survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis torpedoing, which took place after successful delivery of the components, remembered picking up the bomb. On July 15, we were ordered to go to San Francisco to take on some cargo. We tied up at the dock there and two big trucks came alongside. The big crate on one truck was put in the port hanger [sic]. The other truck had a bunch of men aboard, including two Army officers, CAPT [James F.] Nolan and MAJ [Robert R.] Furman … The two men carried a canister, about 3 feet by 4 feet tall, up to ADM Spruance’s cabin where they welded it to the deck. As we got under way on July 16, CAPT McVay told his staff we were on a special mission. ‘I can’t tell you what the mission is. I don’t know myself but I’ve been told that every day we take off the trip is a day off the war’… We had all kinds of guesses as to what the cargo was (Naval Historical Center 2001a).

             

            Following that, the Fat Man plutonium core and its initiator were driven down to Albuquerque. They left Kirtland Field on 26 July and were flown in a C-54 to Tinian, where they arrived 28 July (Federation of American Scientists n.d.a). In addition, on 28 July, “three Fat Man assemblies, complete except for the nuclear material, were transported by truck from Los Alamos to Kirtland Field, New Mexico. There, three B-29s of the 509th met the contingent and flew the bombs to Mather Field in Sacramento, where they arrived July 28 and 29” (Furman 1990). This took place not without mishap, however. On the Laggin’ Dragon, the life raft door flew open and damaged the right control elevator in the tail. Miraculously, the pilot managed to keep control of the plane and landed at Sacramento without further mishap. After servicing, the three B-29s took off for Tinian, delivering the components on 2 August (Furman 1990)

              • Re: Names of Crew Members on Atomic Bomb Planes to Tinian
                Edward Galvin Wayfarer

                Thank you Elliot. I have been pouring over the NARA catalog microfilm reels online.  I did find the Treasure Island, CA muster roll for April 1945 that shows my father being transferred to Mare Island for "special duty" (their quotes, not mine). I have not however found him in any comparable muster roll for Mare Island and don't pick him up again until January 1946 when he was transferred to the USS Pasquotank for the last two months of his service.

                 

                My information is second hand at best regarding what he told my uncles about being on one of the planes (who told my mother, who told me many years later.) I do though have contemporary correspondence from April 1945 about Navy personnel contacting family, friends and neighbors about Dad's suitability for a special assignment. That leads me to wonder what department in the Navy would have conducted those kind of investigations and where those records might be if they survived.

                 

                Knowing won't change anything. My father will still have been gone for close to 70 years now, but it would be nice to know.

                  • Re: Names of Crew Members on Atomic Bomb Planes to Tinian
                    Elliot Schneider Ranger

                    Edward,

                     

                    I have run into the same thing I view every record of Mare Island that had been digitized cannot find a transfer of him any where between 1944 and then until a record shows up in 1946 like you mentioned. Is it possible that from the items I sent to you that he may have taken part in loading those bomb parts that were shipped to Tianin via USS Indianapolis. 

                      • Re: Names of Crew Members on Atomic Bomb Planes to Tinian
                        Edward Galvin Wayfarer

                        I found several other sailors who transferred from Treasure Island to Mare Island with my father the same day.  I have not had much luck tracking them down except that none of them show on the comparable Mare Island muster roll. Would it perhaps be missing?

                         

                        Here are the names:

                         

                        Joseph Barca/Barga                 804 62 14        SV-6                s1c

                        James William Chapman       928 73 43        SV-6, USNR   s1c

                        John David Dunn                   804 30 38        SV6, USNR     s1c

                        Robert Fulton Galvin             804 08 87        USN-I (SA)     s1c    (my father)

                        John Anthony Gentile            897 54 95        SV6, USNR     s1c    later on  USS Stormes last Q 1945

                        Robert Maxwell Gregg           888 36 91        SV6, USNR     s1c     later on  USS Cape Esperance 26 Dec 1945

                                    (1920-1991) a Grape Packing House employee before enlistment

                        Elden Arthur Ingram             563 41 03        V6, USNR       s2c