He was an electrician at the Ford Motor Company Rogue Steel Mill in Dearborn Michigan before they called on him
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Dear Mr. Spry,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
As we mentioned in a reply to a similar question, Technician 5 was a rank rather than a job title, and was held by soldiers doing a wide variety of jobs. Without knowing his occupational classification, it is difficult to say what type of work he did. Given that the Army tried to match soldiers with technical skill in their civilian work to equivalent jobs in the military, it is likely that he was assigned to tasks that used his skills as an electrician.
We suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and prior to 1958 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138-1002.Veterans and their next of kin also may use eVetRecs to request records. See eVetRecs Help for instructions. If there is any information requested by the form which you do not know, you may omit it or provide estimates (such as writing “World War II” instead of specific dates), however the more information you provide, the easier it will be to locate the correct file if the file survived the fire. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.
We searched the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) and located the World War II Army Enlistment Records database that may include a file pertaining to your father. Please note that there are gaps in these records, so some people that enlisted during this time period are not in the database. If you find a listing for him, please use the information in this file (such as his service number and enlistment date) when requesting a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). If you require assistance, please provide his name and additional information such as his date of birth and we can search the database for you.
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Decimal Correspondence Relating to Los Alamos Laboratory, 1942 - 1946 in the Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers (Record Group 77) that may have information about the Special Engineer Detachment assigned to Los Alamos. For more information about these records, please email the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at Archives2reference@nara.gov.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. Also, the NPRC closed again as of November 7, 2020 until further notice. NPRC will respond only to requests involving burials, medical emergencies, and homeless veterans. If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines or emergency requests may be faxed to (314) 801-0764. Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Finally, we searched online and located the following information about the role of special engineer detachments in the Manhattan Project.
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!
I do have a certificate from the Secretary of War for effective service for his contribution on the Atomic bomb and the successful conclusion to the end of World War11. Dated August 6th 1945. Army Corps of Engineers
Ken: Concerning your dad's service with the MED, I couldn't find the family name in the 1945 Los Alamos telephone directory, which is a fairly complete roster of the Project Y staff. There was, however, an F.C. Spry who worked at the Y-12 enrichment plant in Oak Ridge (https://www.atomicheritage.org/profile/f-c-spry ). Can you supply your dad's full name?
His name is Robert William Spry. I also have some fused earth that's contained in thick plastic with his name on it from the explosion. It's melted sand and pictures of McDonalds farm. I have some pictures with him in front of the engineering office. I see A Captain Guery in the picture. He must of been there commander. If there was a way to send them to you I would. Thanks for your help
Hi, Ken: I'd be much interested in seeing the pictures. As a bit of background information, the Los Alamos telephone directory was often out of date as people were constantly arriving and departing. We will need to check badging and employment records to learn more about your dad's service. You mentioned a Captain Guery appearing in a picture: One of our standard references concerning the TRINITY test (https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/5306263 ) lists a Capt. Geery as head of the TR-1F Balloon Flying unit, this being Capt. E.E. Gerry. I just got a message from the Los Alamos Historian indicating that office will be looking through their records. Is there any chance that your dad worked in MED Intelligence and Security? There's a separate set of documents to check for that organization.
I found your dad in the 2001 Wight Sands Missile Range History Report by Thomas Merlan "Life at the Trinity Base Camp" ( http://www.wsmrhistoric.com/files/HistoricalDocuments/life_at_trinity_base_camp_HSR_2001.pdf ). I also came across his draft registration card and service dates in the Fold3 database.
Thanks so much. I think my dad actually might have did some of the wiring on the boom. He told me when I was a boy that if left the base he had 2 MP with him at all times. He used to joke that he could have made it to Vegas he would have bet the War would be over in 2 weeks. On the container with the fused earth it say dedicated to Robert W Spry
I think maybe his service records might be in Washington DC. Maybe?
Ken: I found two records at the Fold3 military history site (https://www.fold3.com/?group=1 ) , the draft registration card (https://www.fold3.com/image/661873899?terms=war,spry,world,ii,robert ) and an Index Record from the Veteran's Affairs BIRLS Death Files (https://www.fold3.com/record/621994779-robert-spry-1920 ). Beyond this, I'm out of my depth. Hope this helps. We'll let you know what can be found in the Laboratory archives; with COVID-19 restrictions, I can't even begin to guess how long this will take. Just FYI, I'm retired from Los Alamos and enjoy related history projects of all kinds.
Thanks you for all your advice and help.
Take Great Care of yourself and family
Kenneth H Spry
Dear Mr. Spry,
Thank you for posting your follow up request on History Hub!
As was mentioned in our previous reply, all Official Military Personnel Files which survived the 1973 fire are at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. There are no personnel files in Washington for enlisted personnel or officers who served in the US Army after 1917.
We searched the previously mentioned World War II Army Enlistment Records database but were unable to locate an entry for your father. Because there are gaps in these records, the lack of an entry for any given person is not evidence that he did not serve.
We also searched online and located the following entry for your father: https://www.atomicheritage.org/profile/robert-w-spry
You may wish to contact the Atomic Heritage Foundation Collections to inquire about their holdings. Other organizations which might have information of interest are the Los Alamos Historical Society and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Also, in case you don’t have access to Fold3, the following is the information that Mr. Kunkle located for you on Fold3:
INDEX RECORD FOR Robert Spry (1920) Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File
Full Name: Robert Spry
Social Security Number: ***-**-9774
Birth Date: 18 Sep 1920
Death Date: 16 Oct 1982
Cause of Death: Unknown
Organization Code: ARMY
Enlistment Date: 25 Apr 1944
Release Date: 16 May 1946
Conflict Period: World War II
Served for: United States of America
WWII Draft Registration Card:
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!