Glen Craddock at Hanford

by Bill Craddock -
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When we moved to Richland, Washington in 1943 (I was 8 months old) Dad went to work at the Hanford Site, very top secret at the time, as an ironworker. Since he was a union journeyman, he was hired as a foreman based on the assumption that a journeyman union hand could at least read blueprints, etc. He worked on the “B-Reactor”; the first fullscale nuclear reactor in the world and the one that produced the plutonium for the “Trinity” test bomb and the Nagasaki bomb.

Early on, he lived in the “barracks” at the Hanford townsite during the week and Mom and us kids lived up the Yakima Valley in a little hamlet by the name of Buena Junction until the government built some houses here in Richland in late 44. His roommate in the “barracks” was a mobile crane operator and they were roused from their sleep one morning about 2:00 AM by armed military police. They were told to be quiet, get dressed in work clothes and come with them. They were then driven in jeeps all over the sagebrush desert in the dark in an effort to disorient them as to their whereabouts. They finally arrived at a temporary (metal plates) airstrip with flares for landing lights out in the middle of the desert. There was a mobile crane, rigging cables, shackles, etc there along with a large metal cask on a flatbed truck. There was also a 4-engine bomber sitting there with engines idling. They were instructed to load the cask into the side fuselage opening in the bomber. After doing so, they noted that personnel inside the bomber secured the cask and the bomber taxied and took off into the darkness. They were driven back (once again by a circuitous route) to their “barracks” and told not to mention this episode to anyone, including, friends, spouses, children, priests, preachers, etc. or they would be in more trouble than they could imagine.

After the war he stayed on here as a maintenance ironworker for over 25 years until a heart condition forced him into early retirement. In 1958, when the first Hanford items were de-classified, the two of them, both still working at Hanford, were called into the Hanford Atomic Energy Commission (now the Dept. of Energy) manager’s office and informed that the cask they had loaded that dark night about 14 years earlier contained the B-Reactor Plutonium that ended up at Alamagordo, New Mexico and Nagasaki Japan. Guess they kinda helped send it on the first leg of its historic journey.

Bill Craddock