Nathan Safferstein, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and former counterintelligence agent on the Manhattan Project has died at his home in New York.
Safferstein had been working as a supermarket manager when his life took an epic turn. He was 21 when he was recruited and ordered to join about 100 other men in New York City's Grand Central Terminal. "It seemed like a thing out of a Bond movie," he recalled in an interview years later.
Safferstein's group disembarked in New Mexico and met Major Peer DeSilva, the laboratory's commander, in a secluded wooded area.
"He explained to us for the first time this ultra-top secret mission, that they were working on a bomb that would be able to dig a hole into the ground some 80 to a hundred feet deep and perhaps 5, 10 miles long. And that from this point on, you are in the Manhattan Project."
Safferstein's job was to eavesdrop on calls made by Los Alamos scientists and engineers, to ensure no details were leaked. He delivered top-secret messages and uranium for the bombs. He carved his initials into the side of the Little Boy bomb while guarding it on the island of Tinian before it was loaded onto the aircraft Enola Gay.
After World War II he was urged to remain in counterintelligence, but he decided on civilian life. He returned to supermarkets, became president of Storecast Corp., then started Long Island-based Supercast and its spinoff, In-Store Distributing.