June 29, 1943: President Roosevelt wrote letter marked “secret” to Manhattan Project Leader, Robert Oppenheimer. FDR sought to smooth over growing antagonism between Oppenheimer & General Leslie Groves. Letter acknowledged Oppenheimer as leader of elite group of scientists operating under strict security & under “very special conditions.” Brain trust of scientists tapped to deliver an atomic weapon, were starting to snap under pressure of trying to meet what they saw as an impossible deadline. Two years later, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, first atomic bomb was successfully detonated. Roosevelt did not live to decide whether or not to use the new powerful weapon in World War II.
June 29, 1995: Upscale department store collapsed in Seoul South Korea, 500+ people died. Tragedy occurred due to series of errors made by designers & contractors who built the store and criminal negligence of store’s owner. It was designed to have five floors but, in the middle of construction, owner insisted that an extra floor with a swimming pool be added. Several engineers working on the project warned owner that this change was dangerous but, rather than taking their advice, owner fired them. Seoul’s official planning department was not advised of the change & government safety inspectors monitoring construction project were bribed, not only to cover up design changes, but also to overlook fact that owner’s contractors were not using enough steel rods for support & were using an inferior grade of concrete to save money. Twelve inspectors were later convicted of accepting bribes. Hundreds of people were eating dinner in food area of the store’s basement level when the entire structure collapsed on top of them. Fifth-floor ceiling fell in & caused all the floors underneath it to buckle as well. Fires broke out throughout the structure, some fueled by gasoline from the cars parked in store’s garage. Fires were not put out for several days.
June 29, 1956: Eisenhower signed National Interstate & Defense Highways Act for construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways over a 20-year period. Federal Highway Act had a major impact on efficient transportation of hazardous materials.
June 29, 1925: Earthquake struck Santa Barbara, California. Heavy loss of life resulted when dam & water mains burst causing some of areas of city to be flattened.
June 29, 1891: U.S. National Forest Service was organized. It’s mission statement is: “Caring for the land and serving people”.
June 29, 1861: William James Mayo, American surgeon, was born. He practiced surgery with his father, Dr. William Worrell Mayo & brother, Dr. Charles Mayo. Together they pioneered concept of group practice, & were renowned for adopting new techniques. Based in Rochester, Minnesota, practice subsequently developed into Mayo Clinic.