- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

ROME, Ga. (AP) - A series of chance meetings brought together a Cedartown teen, an author of a book about the first nuclear bomb and a pair of Korean War veterans on the Darlington campus.

Longtime friends Frank Barron and Buddy Andrews were at the farmers market in Rome when the subject of the U.S. Navy and the Korean War came up. At some point, Andrews said that he had been on board a ship taking an atomic bomb to Japan in 1953 - and Barron realized he had been on a ship escorting Andrews’ ship.

Some time later, Barron, a retired Coca-Cola Co. executive, was helping Darlington student Daniel Morris do some research on the company. He mentioned he had just finished reading a book called “Bomb: The Race to Build - And Steal - the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steven Sheinkin, and Morris said he had just started it.

When Sheinkin was scheduled to speak at Darlington, Morris helped put together a pre-speech breakfast on Monday to bring Barron, Andrews and Sheinkin together at the same table.

Barron related his story of the spring of 1953, when North Korea was refusing to negotiate a settlement to end the war. He said President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to send a bomb to Japan as leverage against the North Koreans.

Barron’s ship, the destroyer-class USS Eversole, was ordered to Guam to escort the USS Chara, an ammunitions ship, back to Japan.

“I didn’t know what we were doing, I was just there,” Barron said.

The Chara turned out to be carrying an atomic bomb.

Andrews, who was aboard the Chara, told Sheinkin the crew knew what they were carrying in special chambers mid-ship. He also said a fire broke out when a sailor tossed a cigarette butt into a trash container full of oil rags.

“We got the fire out and everything turned out okay,” Andrews said. “If we had not gotten the fire out we would have made a hole in the water.”

Barron said the Eversole had gotten an order to move 40 miles ahead of the Chara - an unusual request, since escort ships were generally spaced about 2,000 yards apart. He didn’t learn about the fire, he said, until an Eversole reunion in 1985.

And he didn’t realize until this past summer that Andrews, whom he had known for 70 years - the two were born one day apart - had been aboard the Chara.

Sheinkin, 46, said he became interested in the whole atomic bomb program, and when he discovered how much espionage was involved in the Manhattan Project he felt it would make a compelling book.

“It was the spying that was the hook for me,” Sheinkin said. “There were secret cities all over the place, and labs. Some knew what they were doing and some had no idea what they were working on.”

He mentioned Ted Hall, a teenage Harvard graduate and one of the youngest physicist to be recruited into the atomic program at Los Alamos. Hall apparently became concerned about such a weapon being in the hands of one nation and passed information to the Soviet Union.

Responding to a question from Morris, Sheinkin likened researching a book to doing research for a school paper.

“It’s a lot like detective work,” he added.

He called Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, a genius, “but quirky at the same time.”

Sheinkin is currently working on a book about old-time college football and the Carlisle Indian School where the legendary Jim Thorpe studied and played.


Information from: Rome News-Tribune, https://www.romenews-tribune.com

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