Note: This story was updated at 4:05 p.m.
D. Ray Smith, Y-12 National Security Complex historian, received a U.S. Department of Energy Gold Medal Award on Monday for his role in helping to create the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes Oak Ridge.
The award was presented to Smith by retired Lieutenant General Frank G. Klotz, DOE under secretary for nuclear security and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Smith is retiring this month. He previously told Oak Ridge Today that he would retire November 22.
Established in November 2015, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park is a unique three-site park that includes Oak Ridge; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II. Among other activities, Oak Ridge built uranium enrichment facilities for the Manhattan Project at Y-12 and the former K-25 site, and the city had the pilot facility for plutonium production at the Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which was then known as X-10.
In honoring Smith’s substantial contribution to the NNSA mission on Monday, Klotz noted that Smith’s legacy will be his efforts “to preserve Y-12’s history and promote Oak Ridge’s role in American history.”
Smith has more than 48 years of service at Y-12, an NNSA site, and he became the Y-12 historian in 2005 after many years of working in the site’s maintenance organization, a press release said. In 2005, he helped organize the largest public tour of the last existing set of Manhattan Project-era uranium-enriching calutrons in Building 9204-3, also known as Beta 3, with more than 1,200 people touring the facility.
In 2012, Smith testified during a U.S. House of Representatives hearing in support of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park legislation. His testimony and other efforts helped Congress’s decision to create the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in 2015, with Y-12’s Pilot Plant and the Beta 3 calutrons listed as part of the park, the press release said. (Former Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan also testified in 2012 on behalf of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and others also advocated on behalf of the park, including, to cite one example, the Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. You can read two more stories here and here.)
Smith was named the City of Oak Ridge historian in 2015, and he was recently selected to serve on the Tennessee Historical Commission, the press release said. He has also played a key role in the planning and development of a new American Museum of Science and Energy that will open in 2018, according to the press release, which was from the NNSA Production Office, which oversees operations at Y-12 and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within DOE.
Smith is also vice president of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association and a history columnist for The Oak Ridger newspaper, where he writes “Historically Speaking.”
In October, after an overseas trip this summer, Smith said he wants to travel with his wife Fanny.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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