Gene DiSabatino’s Place in History: EDiS’s Very Own “Forrest Gump!” (Part One)
Part One – Gene DiSabatino: The Soldier
Do you know Eugene D. DiSabatino? If you have had the opportunity of meeting my Great Uncle Gene, I consider you to be very lucky, being that I never have. I have only had a handful of conversations with him over the phone, but the information we have discussed has been vast. Uncle Gene has worn many hats from stonemason to community organizer. Although he has held multiple jobs and positions, he looks at his professional life in three specific roles, categorizing his top three professional achievements. First, he values his services to this great nation during WWII and his contributions in ending the war. Second, his career and life with Ernest DiSabatino & Sons and his involvement with bringing construction management to Delaware with the evolution of the EDiS Company. And finally, his time spent with the unions, specifically the teamsters down in Washington D.C. on the 3-Man Impartial Jurisdictional Dispute Board fighting for trade specific unions in determining the work involved per trade. Gene DiSabatino has overcome unyielding odds to proudly call himself a soldier, a construction manager and an arbitrator.
Gene explains his time with the U.S. Army as an “unexpected detour.” Gene was a civil engineering student attending the University of Delaware when he enlisted. The army did not give him the opportunity to finish school at U of D, instead they sent him straight to boot camp, followed by MIT to finish his civil engineering undergraduate degree, with a focus in military specific engineering. After graduating in 1943, Gene was sent to NYU to study sanitary engineering for the troops in Europe. After a few months of studying, he was called down to his supervisor’s office, which had seen that Gene had worked at the Hercules Powder Plants before enlisting. Gene informed his supervisor that he had worked in the engineering department and had looked at drawings and that was all the supervisor needed to hear. Gene was told to pack his bags and ship out to Oak Ridge, TN.
After a few boring days in Oak Ridge, he and 75 other GI’s were sent to Los Alamos, NM. Upon arrival, Gene and 150 other GI’s were placed in a large room and briefed on the objectives ahead of them, code named the “Manhattan Project.” Gene was given two key jobs. The first was to develop ballistic tables for use on the Norden Bomb site for the B-29 Super Fortress at an altitude of 30,000 ft. with a payload of 5 tons. The second was developing the assembly process for loading the atomic bomb into the plane, fusing in flight and deployment. After developing these components in Los Alamos, he was sent to two top secret Air Force test sites in Wendover, UT and Salton Sea, CA with the 393rd Bombardment Squadron. During his time at the test facilities, he was ordered to only wear civilian clothing because of the confidential nature of their activities. Once testing was over, Gene and the 393rd were shipped off to Tinian in the Marianas Islands. When that fateful day was determined, Gene assisted the loading of the “Fat Man” into the B-29 bomber Bockscar, headed towards Nagasaki, Japan. To Gene’s knowledge, he was the last person on earth to lay hands on the bomb before it was deployed on August 9, 1945. He was only 23 years old.
Check back in for Part 2: Gene DiSabatino: Construction Manager.