After initial training at the Engineer School at Fort Humphreys (later Fort Belvoir), Virginia, Groves served in Hawaii, Texas, Nicaragua (where he was awarded the Nicaraguan Medal of Merit for restoring water to Managua following an earthquake), Washington, D.C., and Missouri. Assigned to the War Department in 1939, Groves became chief of the Operations Branch and in 1941 deputy head of the Construction Division. In these capacities, Groves oversaw the vast expansion of military camps and training facilities across the United States. He then supervised construction of the Pentagon, the world's largest office building.
His success in a variety of engineering projects led to Groves's promotion to brigadier general and assignment in September 1942 to head the manhattan Project, charged with construction of an atomic bomb. In this capacity, Groves controlled 129,000 personnel and $2 billion in spending. He won promotion to major general in March 1944. This vast effort resulted in the explosion of the first atomic device at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on 16 July 1945. Groves advised President Harry S Truman to use the bomb and helped select Japanese target cities.
After the war, Groves sought international control over atomic energy. When this did not occur, Groves organized the Army Forces Special Weapons Project to study military uses of atomic energy. Promoted to lieutenant general in January 1948, Groves retired from the army that same month and became vice president for research of the Rand Corporation. He retired altogether in 1961. Groves died in Washington, D.C., on 13 July 1970. Ryan E. Doltz
Gosling, F. G. The Manhattan Project: Science in the Second World War. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy, 1990.; Groves, Leslie R. Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1962.; Lawren, William. The General and the Bomb. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1988.; Nichols, Kenneth D. The Road to Trinity. New York: William Morrow, 1987.; Norris, Robert S. Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, The Manhattan Project's Indispensable Man. South Royalton, VT: Steerforth Press, 2002.
Ryan E. Doltz