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Little Boy weaponeer William “Deak” Parsons, wartime Los Alamos division leader, focus of next 70th anniversary lecture

Former Laboratory historian Roger Meade to present lecture.
August 8, 2013
William S. “Deak” Parsons

William S. “Deak” Parsons

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Meade said Los Alamos’ first director, J. Robert Oppenheimer, described Parson’s work by saying, “I believe it is impossible to overestimate the value which Capt. Parsons has been to the project to which he is engaged, nor the loss we should have incurred without his services.”

Former Laboratory historian Roger Meade to talk about life, career, contributions to Lab, the nation by “The Last Commodore”

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Aug. 8, 2013—Los Alamos National Laboratory historian emeritus Roger Meade talks about William S. “Deak” Parsons, one of wartime Los Alamos’ first division leaders and the contributions he made as an ordnance engineer to the success of the Lab — including his role as the Little Boy weaponeer — at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14, at the Bradbury Science Museum. The talk is part of Los Alamos’ 70th anniversary lecture series.

Meade said Los Alamos’ first director, J. Robert Oppenheimer, described Parson’s work by saying, “I believe it is impossible to overestimate the value which Capt. Parsons has been to the project to which he is engaged, nor the loss we should have incurred without his services.”

Parsons, the leading military ordnance expert at the beginning of World War II, came to the Lab to oversee the engineering of Fat Man and Little Boy to be combat weapons. Parsons also served as one of the first two associate directors of the Laboratory. Meade also will discuss Parsons’ experience arming Little Boy aboard the Enola Gay.

Parsons also was instrumental in the first post-war atomic bomb test, as well as Operation Crossroads and the 1948 Sandstone tests.  He served on the Department of Defense’s Military Liaison Committee and was Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. Parsons died in 1953.

Meade retired from the Lab in 2007 after working for 25 years as the Laboratory archivist historian. He is the co-author of “Critical Assembly,” a technical history of the Laboratory’s World War II years, and is presently working on a book-length study of atmospheric weapons testing.

About the 70th anniversary lecture series

Los Alamos National Laboratory celebrates 70 years of service to the nation in 2013. This free lecture series is part of a number of activities planed to mark the anniversary.

Mensa, an internationally recognized high-IQ society, named the Bradbury Science Museum as one of the top 10 “Favorite Science Museums.”

All events at the Bradbury Science Museum are free and open to the public. Bradbury Science Museum is located at 1350 Central Ave., in downtown Los Alamos.

Museum hours

  • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday
  • 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday and Monday.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.


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