The Blast!

February 10, 2017

nuc

THE BLAST

 

Upcoming Events at the Museum

   lec-series2016

For information on Education, Museum Tours, Intern and Docent programs, call 702 794-5144 or email info@natm-nv.org.

 

Movie Night at the Museum TONIGHT

 

Our Movie Night at the Museum is happening tonight at 6 p.m. and is FREE to both members and non-members.  We’ll be screening “WarGames” starring Matthew Broderick,” and snacks will be available for purchase. More info is available in the flyer above.  We hope to see you this evening!

Record Crowd for T.D. Barnes Lecture

More than 100 people attended T.D. Barnes’ distinguished lecture, “The CIA at Area 51” on Friday, Jan. 27.  His lecture discussed the CIA’s involvement in pioneering aerial reconnaissance at Area 51, including U-2 Project Aquatone, A-12 Project Oxcart, and the MiG projects, along with information on how personnel was selected and how their secret work impacted their family lives.

Barnes is a veteran military intelligence operative and the author of several books, including “MiGs Over Nevada.”  He is the president of Roadrunners Internationale, the group of pilots who tested advanced military aircraft at Area 51, and the former executive director of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame.  Between projects at Groom Lake, Barnes worked on NASA’s Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) at the Nuclear Rocket Development Station on the Nevada Test Site.  Barnes also participated in Atomic Energy Commission tests of the atomic bomb.  He is a long-time supporter of the NATM–he’s been a guest lecturer in recent years, and was a key contributor to the Area 51: Myth or Reality exhibit.  For more information on our Distinguished Lecture series, please call 702.794.5151.

 

Follow the NATM on Pinterest!

The National Atomic Testing Museum recently launched a Pinterest page, and we’d love for you to follow us!  We’re pinning lots of great science experiments and history lessons for kids of all ages, along with historical photos from the Atomic Age.  We hope our page will become a resource for teachers and parents looking to incorporate STEM and local history into their lesson plans.  You can find our page here.

 

NATM License Plates Available Now

Atomic Testing Museum charitable license plates are available through the Nevada DMV, and you don’t have to wait until your current plate expires to get one!  Just take your current registration and license plates to your nearest DMV and ask for the Atomic Testing Museum license plate.  There will be a one-time fee of $62, and a one-time admin fee of $6.  Atomic Testing Museum license plates can also be personalized for an additional cost.  The museum receives $25 for each new license plate, and $20 for each year you renew, and you get the tax deduction.  It’s an easy (and stylish!) way to support the museum.  For more information, visit the Nevada DMV website here.

Museum Tours

We welcomed several hundred students from Southern Nevada to the museum in January for field trips.  Elementary, middle, and high school students from public, private, charter and home schools took tours of our exhibits, along with kids from several community groups like Girl Scouts (Troop 37 is pictured).  Our many great volunteers guide these students through the museum, sharing stories from their careers at the Test Site and their experiences of living through the Cold War, which provides the kids a unique scientific and historical perspective not found elsewhere.  If you are interested in a field trip to the NATM, please email jordan.mcgee@natm-nv.org or call 702.439.8438.  We’d love to see you here this Spring!

Museum Store Move

If you’ve been to the NATM recently, you may have noticed that our museum store has a new home!  The store is now located inside the museum at the end of the exhibit space, so it’s now the last thing you experience before leaving the museum.

The former store location will be used as a temporary exhibit space going forward.  Stayed tuned for more information on the exhibits coming to that space!

From apparel to books to films to toys, our store has a great array of gifts and souvenirs, so be sure to check it out on your next visit.  If you like to shop in your PJs (we do, too!), you can shop our store online anytime here.

spot_on

It is our mission at the National Atomic Testing Museum to document the history of and current events in nuclear testing. We never take a political stance on any issue; rather, we do strive to keep you informed. In each newsletter, my Spot On column will highlight history and happenings in the nuclear world.     

 

signature

 

Remembering EG&G, Part VI
A New World

Since I first wrote this article several months ago, many new stories have been forwarded to me by those who reminisced about the three great men who made up the famous contracting and engineering firm of EG&G. With former EG&G General Manager Peter Zavattaro’s generous assistance, we have reworked my original article. I hope you enjoy this final updated installment.

When Barney O’Keefe returned from the Pacific in 1954 following Operation Castle, he found the company at a turning point. By then Grier was living fulltime in Las Vegas and would from that point on devote most of his attention to the work being contracted with the laboratories and the Test Site. Back in Boston O’Keefe and Germeshausen wanted to focus more time to non-defense related activities. They seemed to sense that nuclear testing may be entering a period of unpredictability in terms of world events. It was a new world these men were facing as the arms race began to intensify while simultaneously public controversy developed over nuclear testing.

Their first major work outside testing in 1954 was with improved ceramic designs of hydrogen thyratrons for radars. EG&G would also soon receive a contract to setup a radar site near the Test Site. Germeshausen had made significant advances in radar design since he worked in that field at MIT’s Radiation Lab during World War Two. O’Keefe then got the growing company involved in a second project. This was the development and production of instrumentation for the Air Force which O’Keefe had played a key part in. It involved a defense related contract and the details appear classified, so I was not able to research this area further.

In 1954 EG&G sales grew to $2.3 million with a $40,000 profit. The number of employees had grown from six to two hundred in just seven years. By 1955 sales exceeded $3.5 million with 390 employees. In 1956 that figure grew to $5.7 million with 480 employees while earnings reached $111,000.

This rapid growth and move to convert the organization from pure scientific research into a market place business seems largely due to O’Keefe and Germeshausen. O’Keefe has an amazing reflection on this key period in the history of EG&G in his book, “Nuclear Hostages”:

“In the flush of the initial formation of the corporation, when we plunged full time into preparation for the Sandstone test series in 1948, we didn’t even have an accountant. We packed up our bills in a large envelope and sent them to the New York office of the Manhattan District for payment. We didn’t have facilities of our own, operating out of MIT as we did when working for the university. We did our budgeting on the blackboard and then erased it. Later in the year, government auditors pointed out to us that this was not quite acceptable financial practice. After Sandstone, we acquired our own facilities in a converted garage on Brookline Avenue in Boston. We hired accountants, clerks, secretaries, and telephone operators. At one point, as our numbers approached one hundred people, we seriously debated whether we should stop there and not get any larger because we would begin to lose quality. . . Our budgeting technique [by 1952] took a quantum jump. Instead of budgeting on the blackboard and erasing it, we budgeted on the blackboard and took a Polaroid picture before erasing it. We thought certainly that would satisfy the auditors, but for some reason it didn’t. We set up an accounting system to pay our own bills and send invoices. We hired a personnel man to set salary grades and monitor performance against wages. We set up our own machine shop and chemical laboratories. We developed our own networks of suppliers and converted some of our aging electronic technicians into buyers and purchasing agents.
 
Everything did not go smoothly or without protest. After we had grown to the size of several hundred employees, the business needed more and more accountability. It is the practice in small laboratories to have an open stockroom where engineers and technicians can go in and take the supplies they need. When a box gets empty, somebody orders more. There comes a point in growth when a stock clerk is needed to maintain continuity of supply and to account for distribution to various tasks and product lines. Dr. Edgerton objected to this. He maintained his own laboratory at MIT, where he was now a full professor. He felt that accounting for supplies was a nuisance and hindered his research. But progress marches on. I finally had to hire a stock clerk and lock up the stockroom, but I forgot to tell Dr. Edgerton. I arrived one Monday morning to hear the stock clerk reporting a burglary over the weekend. I soon found the culprit. It was Dr. Edgerton. He had come in to do some work on a Sunday, a normal workday for him, found the stockroom locked, went to his car for a pair of wire cutters, and calmly cut the screen out of the stockroom wall. A free spirit!”

By 1955 with O’Keefe’s commercial diversification in Boston, the continental test work rested primarily with Grier in Las Vegas. However, the testing program still remained EG&G’s chief responsibility. At the Test Site Grier supervised a contract for fifteen detonations where the timing and firing and high speed photography work expanded to include the diagnostic measurement of the rate of the multiplication of the neutrons in a nuclear detonation. Meanwhile, Barney O’Keefe took over the responsibility for further weapons tests in the Pacific. It is hard to imagine how these men were able to take on so much work at one time and still lead a growing and diversifying company.


On October 1st, 1956, EG&G published its first newsletter called “EGG ink”. Our Museum is proud to have an original copy of this early edition thanks to a donation by Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation Board Trustee and former EG&G General Manager Peter Zavattaro. Also in our collection is the original handmade printing block used on those first newsletters to emboss the early EG&G logo. This is a truly remarkable, one of a kind, artifact.

Contained in that very first circular is a short history of how EG&G became involved in nuclear weapons testing. Earlier parts of this article have already covered that story; however very interestingly, the newsletter points out that the founders of EG&G had debated as far back as 1949 about whether or not to continue to expand in the direction of defense work.

Nevertheless, O’Keefe and Germeshausen continued to try to expand the company into commercial instrumentation. The EG&G newsletter article does stresses that Dr. Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier all felt obligated first and foremost to serve the interest of their country. O’Keefe also stressed that fact in his writings.

The stunning news in 1949 that the Soviets had tested an atomic weapon and a few short years later mastered a thermonuclear device in 1953 impressed upon the EG&G founders the gravity of their own expertise in classified nuclear weaponry. Plainly, they had a responsibility no one else could provide. Thus by 1956 when this story appeared in the first EG&G newsletter, it is clear that the trio, along with O’Keefe, wanted to continue nuclear testing work. In their eyes they saw that to maintain the peace meant gaining nuclear security. By that point it is evident, at least in Grier’s mind, that the growing nuclear arms race would be about deterrence. Later interviews reinforce that although the possibility of a nuclear war was never out of anyone’s mind. Grier, and O’Keefe, seemed to sense that nuclear weapons were becoming so powerful and numerous that they may never actually be able to be used. However, their very existence necessitated a strategy of deterrence.

Grier exhibited a profound sense of patriotism as well as community as he established his home in Las Vegas. He became not only an integral part of the Test Site but Las Vegas as well.  He served on the local draft board during those years, and he always insisted eligible EG&G employees do their service. He however promised all of his employees who went into service that they would be guaranteed their jobs back as well as be given credit for their years of military service in terms of company seniority and retirement benefits.

Those first newsletters also provide a fascinating insight into the early days of EG&G as a company. They truly demonstrate a business in service to a community. These valuable research sources also give an interesting look into everyday life in Las Vegas in the 1950s. Dr. Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier certainly contributed to a cultural life for EG&G employees and the local community. (This was also true at their Boston office.) From the first newsletter issues in 1956, the company is seen as being active in supporting scholarships in Clark County and providing frequent demonstrations of the unclassified portions of its work. They produced what look to be some very attractive exhibit panels documenting their work. These were put on display at numerous public gatherings and at school science fairs and educational activities.

A real desire is evident to promote science and education. The company staged many service events both for employees and local citizens. The Boston and Las Vegas EG&G offices had active bowling and softball teams. In 1958 EG&G supported the Las Vegas High School Junior Achievement Club. The Las Vegas office also hosted an impressive art exhibition in July of 1957 with over 500 local people in attendance. The show took place at Las Vegas High School where EG&G employees and their families were key contributors to many of the works on display.

EG&G sent a special exhibit trailer to the Clark County Fair and among many exhibits actually displayed examples of their early firing and timing systems which were by then a part of history. Also at that exhibit were examples of some, then, very cutting-edge analog business computers. A talk at the Fair sponsored by EG&G explored the outlandish concept that computers may one day actually be able to talk to one another on a global scale.

At the end of each year the three men would host a party for company personnel. It was said there were never any no-shows. Many former EG&G executives recall how the partners would circulate among every table and speak to each employee in person. Accounts all agree that these fine men would go to great lengths to make each individual feel recognized and appreciated.

By 1957 the Nevada Test Site and contractors like EG&G were a major part of the growth of Las Vegas. Nuclear testing created a metaphorical boom that by then supplied millions of dollars in resources and jobs. Nearly seven thousand civilians were working at or for the Test Site that year. The Atomic Energy Commission had another fifteen thousand workers supporting nuclear testing. Each test was estimated to pump over a million dollars into the local economy although it is impossible to equate test for test the benefits in jobs and spending at any precise movement. Overall, the Test Site and its workers were making Las Vegas grow day by day because almost every worker had a wife and children. Those families needed housing and schools. Houses and schools called for more roads and power lines and water works, and this created a chain reaction as real as the chain reactions going on during the nuclear tests.

In 1958 the government asked Barney O’Keefe to become the scientific commander for the Bikini operations in Operation Hardtack. Grier stayed in Las Vegas to oversee EG&G contracts at the Test Site. As O’Keefe took a brief leave of absence from the company for his return to the Pacific, fifty-four tests took place between Nevada, Eniwetok, Bikini and Johnston Island. Eleven weapons development tests of high yields were carried out at Bikini. O’Keefe described the pace as overwhelming, and he described this period as one of great stress. He recounted:

“As I sat evening after evening in the senior officers’ mess, I was struck by the siege mentality of the senior military and of the civilian scientists. I had been away from direct involvement in the field operations for almost two years; I understood the worldwide concern about fallout, the sincere desire of the President [Eisenhower] to do something tangible about stopping the headlong race to oblivion. To me a test ban treaty, or at least a temporary moratorium, was inevitable. Not so to the people at Bikini. They were inculcated with a spirit of the importance of nuclear superiority to the national security. They were strongly anti-Communist, deeply suspicious of the Soviets, convinced that the Russians would find some way to cheat. They dismissed the fallout question as media-inspired; they felt betrayed by the politicians and duped by the Soviets. Having no one to talk to but one another, they became more and more convinced of the validity of their position, more and more eager to complete as many tests as possible before they were put out of business.”

The lull in nuclear weapons testing did not really affect the ever-increasing demands being put on EG&G. During the moratorium the company mastered the use of conventional but very high grade explosives to simulate atomic blasts. Much of that work was done at the Test Site. Even before the test ban, an EG&G newsletter from 1957 talks about a rather severe recession which had hit the country. History tells us it was comparatively brief, but defense spending did decrease as a result. The newsletter in fact talks about significant decreases in defense spending; however, the company’s work had become so critical and specialized that EG&G continued to expand.

A moratorium on nuclear weapons testing began in late October of 1958 and would last for almost three years. Just before the ban came into effect, eighteen full-scale tests were hurriedly detonated at the Test Site in just a few weeks with four on October 22nd alone. They also conducted last-minute experiments in deep wells dug in the Yucca Basin. Articles in the EG&G newsletters debated if nuclear testing might be over for good. Following that last rush of tests, company newsletters detail their work in Project Rover, an effort to develop a nuclear thermal rocket. The stories detail how in the spring of 1958 EG&G established a Reactor Engineering Department in Las Vegas to support the work going on at the Test Site in nuclear rocket propulsion. That work kept many employees busy through the years of the moratorium.

The lull in nuclear weapons testing only put new and ever-increasing demands on EG&G. During the moratorium, the company mastered the use of conventional but very high grade explosives to simulate atomic blasts. Much of that work was done at the Test Site. Even before the test ban, an EG&G newsletter from 1957 talks about a rather severe recession which had hit the country. History tells us it was comparatively brief, but defense spending did decrease as a result. The newsletter in fact talks about significant decreases in defense spending; however, the company’s work had become so critical and specialized that EG&G continued to expand.

In 1958 they signed six government Research and Development contracts. Five of these were with the United States Army and one with the Atomic Energy Commission.

Moratorium or no moratorium, the company continued to specialize in nuclear-related technologies. In 1959 Dr. Edgerton represented EG&G at the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where he exhibited examples of the company’s numerous patents in the nuclear energy field. In 1958 EG&G formed a nucleonics group in Las Vegas to design diagnostic nuclear instrumentation. The group later relocated to a newly established operations in Santa Barbara, California.

The company’s numerous patents in Hydrogen Thyratron Tubes made it indispensable to the work in advanced radar systems then being developed by the military. At a time when technology depended on vacuum tubes, EG&G led developments to extend the life of this fragile form of technology by finding ways to more evenly distribute the high levels of heat produced by tubes. In 1961 EG&G sales were $19 million and that doubled to $38 million in 1962. When MIT became the first to shine a laser beam to the Moon in 1962, it was thanks to EG&G Xenon flash tubes.

On August 30, 1961, the Soviet Union announced at a disarmament conference in Geneva that it would resume testing. The Soviets tested a 150-kiloton device one day later. Clearly they were already preparing to resume testing. In the next sixty days, the Soviets conducted fifty atmospheric tests. This became the most intense sustained-test series in history. Barney O’Keefe and Grier agreed in their assessment that since it takes years to prepare for such a large series of tests, that it had become obvious that the Soviets never stopped preparations as the United States had naively done during the three-year moratorium. O’Keefe reflected:

“The United States was caught unprepared…the weapons laboratories, without the deadlines of a scheduled test program, had delayed settling on the final designs of most of their new devices. The military, with restricted budgets and limited technical personnel, had allowed their forces to atrophy. Politically it was embarrassing not to be able to resume testing immediately as the Soviets had done. . . Again there were two full-scale test programs, one in Nevada and one in the Pacific. Because of the three-year moratorium, there was a severe lack of trained testing personnel, particularly in the military and in the nonweapons government laboratories. . . Contrary to what had happened in other organizations, we at EG&G had not lost any experienced people. In accordance with our fundamental diversification strategy they had been transferred to other, nonweapons programs. . . When asked to take on a heavy test load, we were reluctant to do so since it would delay many of the commercial developments into which we had put so much time, effort, and money; furthermore, the President had ordered that the atmospheric tests be completed in six months, after which there would be an atmospheric test moratorium. But the appeals to patriotism on the importance of the tests could not be ignored.”

Around that time,Grier and O’Keefe were in Samoa making some measurements of the aurora effect from a new series of high altitude tests near Christmas Island. O’Keefe tells an amusing story from those last few months of the atmospheric testing period.

“Grier and I were driving through jungle roads twenty-five miles to the western tip of the island, [of Pago in American Samoa] where our photographic installation was located. We had found a promontory about fifty feet high, which was ideal for our cameras; to help us with the installation we hired two chiefs from the village to the east at a going rate of $28 per week each. There we found the sources of friction [that they soon learned from a call from the Assistant Secretary of Interior and had caused concern all the way back in Washington DC]. None of the natives had ever paid attention to ownership of the high ground because it was useless to them. Their main livelihood was fishing, so everyone lived by the beach. When the chiefs of the village to the west of the promontory heard that the chiefs to the east were making $56 per week, they claimed ownership of the promontory, [and] starting a dispute that filtered all the way back to Washington. We solved the problem in typical American style, by hiring the other two chiefs for $28 per week each; since there was now nothing to do but wait for the test, we had four [chieftain] employees watching two plywood shacks. The natives were delighted. They decided to have a big feast for the two chiefs from Boston who had brought peace to their villages.”

By 1963, and the move to underground testing, the world changed dramatically for the EG&G founders. Peter Zavattaro’s book on EG&G provides a very detailed account of that period as well as the whole EG&G story. A new chapter of increased diagnostic analysis became possible with the underground era which EG&G played a significant role in. However, the heydays were over and along with them, at least some of, the best stories. O’Keefe went on to write an outstanding book called Nuclear Hostages from which many passages have been quoted here. His book concludes with the thesis that the great powers like Russia and America finally made themselves hostages to one another. The nuclear weapons they had created posed a threat that they could not undue. O’Keefe and the three founding fathers of EG&G never regretted the work they did in nuclear testing. They pointed out that the natural laws of the universe were always there and if America had not unlocked the secrets of the atom first, someone else would have. And once one super power has such a weapon it will always follow that an arms race begins. Nuclear bombs are in one respect just the latest great weapon of the day. A hundred years ago, engineers and great powers feverishly struggled to see who could build the most battleships or greatest “dreadnoughts” of the day. A hundred years before that it was the invention of high explosives or Dynamite. You go back further and it was the cannon and then the crossbow, all the way back to swords and spears. A hundred years from now we will likely have another new innovative weapon. The men of EG&G played a remarkable part in the history of nuclear testing in the Twentieth Century. However, their story as human beings and great engineers is even more amazing and varied.

The more one reads about the history of EG&G and thus the works of the Dr. Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, one fact stands out. It becomes apparent that in those early days the physicists were the ones who conceived elaborate concepts such as atomic weaponry. Yet, it took practical scientists and engineers to actually make the devices work. Many varied skills were required to put any type of complex system into production. In my mind the remarkable feature about these founding scientists of EG&G concerned just that. All three men had a great scope of work and many varied interests. Today such figures would be relegated to history as “renaissance men.” Modern science and engineering today is so highly specialized and compartmentalized that the like of such figures may never be known again.

Yet, it was their great diversity and teamwork which made them so successful. Just look at the life these men led. As stated in an earlier section, photos by Dr. Edgerton grace the halls of the New York Museum of Modern Art. In later years, he became deeply involved with deep-sea photography helping Jacques Cousteau in undersea research. Working in collaboration, Edgerton and Cousteau sought out and discovered numerous historic undersea shipwrecks and examined perplexing marine mysteries. It was said he had an amazingly optimistic outlook. On one failed marine expedition while looking for the Civil War era ironclad Monitor, one colleague said “what a waste.”  Dr. Edgerton, who had helped develop sonar for that search, popped back in a cheery voice and said totally unaffected “we discovered where it is not.” Mrs. Grier recounted the very unique and charming personality of Dr. Edgerton:

“He was one of the most delightful persons I have ever met. Just interested in everybody and everything-one of those people who make you feel worthwhile no matter who you were. And a great inspiration to his students; at MIT they still worship his memory. His wife, Esther, was a dear, also. She outlived him for quite a long time. Germeshausen (Herb called him ‘Germs’ with a hard G, his wife Polly called him Ken) was an admirable person, too. A brilliant man, very reserved and quiet.”

Dr. Edgerton held forty-seven patents over a lifetime of achievement.He was even a musician while Germeshausen became an accomplished cook and lectured on the art of cooking. Germeshausen mastered the science responsible for fifty patents over his years and became an authority on patent law. He became an able businessman serving as the company’s vice president and treasurer from 1947 to 1954, president from 1954 to 1965 and chairman from 1965 to 1972, when he retired. Germeshausen also amassed a notable contemporary art collection and dabbled in modern architecture, designing his own home.

There seems no end to the many varied interests of Grier. To a great degree, he was his father’s son. Herbert E. Grier, Sr. worked as a die chemist who influenced his son’s interest in anything mechanical. He urged him to attend MIT which is where Grier began his long career in science and engineering.

David Grierson writes about Grier’s time at MIT:

“Grier earned his bachelor of science and master of science degrees in electrical engineering at MIT. His thesis paper on stroboscopic photography led him to collaborate with MIT faculty member Harold Edgerton and Kenneth Germeshausen. Together, the scientists pioneered ultra-high-speed photography and the then unique stroboscopic and flash lighting techniques, including a portable flash unit for news photographers. In a history of EG&G produced by the corporation, Grier points out that the partnership was first formed ‘to achieve, as a group, more than we could as individuals.’ With no written agreement, the scientists simply pooled their resources for a variety of consulting projects. As their abilities became more widely known, they prospered. ‘The effort worked very well; at least we ate,’ recalled Grier, ‘and in those days in the early thirties, that was somewhat of problem.”

As the years went by, the company grew much larger than anyone would have imagined. In 1964 Grier became president of the consortium of a merger of the Continental Oil Company, EG&G and Reynolds Electrical. He retired from EG&G in 1976 at the age of 65 although he stayed on the Board of Directors for several years afterwards. Grier served on a number of other boards as well such as the NASA Safety Advisory Panel. (All the three founding men made a promise to one another to retire from the company at age 65 so other junior members could move up.) In fact, in his memoirs, O’Keefe recalls that when the group began a serious debate about the company growing too large and losing quality Grier was quoted as saying:

“When we get that big, we’ll have to start writing memos to each other. . . If we have to start writing memos, we should quit.”

I think the comradeship those men had is hard to appreciate in our modern legal and politically correct world of today. The father of three, Grier finally left Las Vegas and retired with his wife to La Jolla, California, where he spent most of his time gardening. Grier recounted in an interview at that time:

“Most of us in science do our best work when we’re young. . .  As you get older and see more of the big picture, you inevitably graduate toward management. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve always worked for myself in an occupation and with people I enjoyed.”

Grier remained as a consultant to EG&G until his death in 1999. In 1989 Grier received the Presidential Medal of Science.  Herb Grier was a scientist who could engineer and build almost anything from scratch. One of my favorite exhibits at our Museum is a working model of a steam piston engine that Grier built by hand. It is amazing to me how all three of these men accomplished so much in their lifetimes.

By early 1995, EG&G decided to end its long association with the Department of Energy and did not compete for the follow-up contract after the existing one ended in December 1995. The founders were long gone from involvement with the Company. O’Keefe died the earliest, in 1989, followed by Edgerton and Germeshausen in 1990. Grier passed away in 1999. The Company’s CEO, John Kucharski, began looking for a buyer of the remaining government work. When EG&G sold that division, its own name went with it. The remaining commercial work was consolidated into a recently acquired company, PerkinElmer Inc. which became its new identity and is still prospering today. The Carlisle group became the buyer of the government work and set up a privately held company called EG&G Technical Services, Inc. That company was then sold in 2002 to the United Research Services or URS Corporation in San Francisco.  In 2014 the California based company AECOMacquired URS. The original essence of EG&G and the company name is now long gone. Surprisingly, few outside the circle of surviving Nevada Test Site veterans even know what the initials EG&G stand for. This is a history that needs to be documented because it has a national significance! This story also imparts a strong legacy for our Las Vegas region.

The last EG&G General Manager Peter Zavattaro made some interesting reflections in an oral history interview he gave in 2015:

“EG&G has really been a unique company. The people that worked at EG&G, almost everyone has good feelings about how they were treated, how we worked together, how management ran. It’s truly been a unique experience. We used to have reunions back in Boston when I went back there. People would come from all over the country to those reunions. We’d have a thousand people. Everybody that I’ve talked to, I talk to people at the lab, there’s a lot of people at the lab that were EG&G at one time. Like the deputy director, Don Cobb used to work for me in Los Alamos. And I invited him to the reunion and he would write a couple of nice sentences about how great, EG&G was such a great experience and a unique company to work for. So, it’s unlike any other company that I’m aware of that has that kind of rapport and history. . . But the company philosophy has always been to treat everybody well, and there was no structure that was typical of a lot of companies today. It was a good place. . . With EG&G, it’s always been it’s can-do technical attitude, very field oriented and positive kind of thing. . .  We managed to keep the bureaucracy pretty well buried. At least I did. As I say in my book, there’s only four general managers in fifty years there. It was Grier, Felt, Hammon, and me for the history of our participation in the weapons program.”

signature

To become a new Member, or renew your existing Membership, please call 702 794-5151 or go to our membership page. You may also purchase a gift membership from the Museum Store and have it sent with a recent copy of The Blast, the museum’s E-Newsletter.

For more information regarding NATIONAL ATOMIC TESTING MUSEUM Membership, please visit our FAQ page.

********

The National Atomic Testing Museum thanks the following corporate donors for their support of the museum:

The National Atomic Testing Museum
755 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas
NV 89119-7373
www.NationalAtomicTestingMuseum.org
Inquiries 702 794-5151

Visit, follow, share and like us: