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R emembering HAROLD AGNEW Harold Agnew, the Laboratory’s third director, rides his bike by the Laboratory’s Study Center, which was completed during his tenure as director. (Photo: Los Alamos) Over the past decade, I’ve fielded some interesting questions as a Laboratory historian. Among the now- trite queries, such as those pertaining to alien autopsies and Area 51, one simple question stands out as my favorite: “Was I at the Trinity test?” That question was asked of me by Harold M. Agnew, the Laboratory’s third director. Though initially puzzled, I confirmed that he indeed was not there. This prompted Harold to say: “Fine, I didn’t think so. Luis [Alvarez, a wartime Los Alamos scientist and future Nobel laureate] said in his memoir I was, so I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t.” Classic Harold. Harold Agnew grew up in Denver during the Great Depression. His father was a hard-working roofing contractor who always managed to put food on the table, although on one occasion Harold’s family had to turn off the lights and pretend they weren’t home when the rent collector came. Many considered Harold a cheapskate, but his thrifty ways were adopted early in his life out of necessity. When he was a child, Harold’s interest in science was sparked by a chemistry set he received as a gift. A few days before he died, Harold told me he still had that chemistry set in his possession. It helped launch a career in science that first took him to the University of Denver, where he studied chemistry and started dating his future wife, a lovely student named Beverly, who worked in the dean’s office. National Security Science • February 2014 Only months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Harold and Beverly, who were still dating, both decided to join the Army Air Corps. However, because of his training as a chemist, Harold was instead recruited to work for the Manhattan Project under Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago. As a member of Fermi’s team, Harold helped build the world’s first nuclear reactor and on December 2, 1942, witnessed it produce the world’s first sustained chain reaction. Now married, the Agnews followed Fermi to Los Alamos in the spring of 1943. Beverly served as a secretary for the Lab’s first director, J. Robert Oppenheimer. Harold, among other things, helped design and build diagnostic instruments to measure the atomic blasts. When the Trinity test was conducted on July 16, 1945, Harold was already on Tinian Island preparing for the atomic strikes against Japan. As a member of the scientific observation team, he filmed the attack on Hiroshima—for posterity, on his own initiative. As the bright light from the flash enveloped the plane’s cabin, Harold thought, “It worked! It really worked!” Many years later, when asked if he had any regrets about the atomic bombings, Harold replied, “From Pearl Harbor, to Bataan, to Nanking; all the atrocities that took place, all the grief that we suffered. I just felt they bloody-well deserved it.” Although Harold and Beverly did not join the military, many 41