On March 19, Sanford N. McDonnell, a Manhattan Project veteran and chairman of the aerospace company McDonnell Douglas, passed away at the age of 89. During the war, McDonnell helped develop a vacuum casting process for uranium-238 at Los Alamos. In 1972, McDonnell became chief executive and chairman of McDonnell Douglas, which was bought by Boeing in 1997. Under his leadership, McDonnell Douglas developed and built fighter planes like the F-4 Phantom II and completed the Skylab space station. McDonnell also served as national president of the Boy Scouts of America in from 1984 to 1986. In 1988, he founded CharacterPlus, an organization dedicated to character education.
McDonnell submitted his Manhattan Project story to the Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association (MPHPA), which the Atomic Heritage Foundation took over in 2006. He recalled, “When we left the Manhattan Project, every G.I. received a letter from Robert Oppenheimer expressing his appreciation for our part on the project.” The New York Times and Bloomberg both mentioned McDonnell’s story on AHF’s website in their obituaries.
Individuals like Sanford McDonnell exemplify the intelligence and tenacity of all the people involved in the Manhattan Project.