Richard H. Groves, Army lieutenant general, dies at 88

January 26, 2012

Richard H. Groves, 88, a retired Army lieutenant general whose father led the U.S. atomic bomb effort known as the Manhattan Project, died Dec. 26 at his home in Fort Belvoir, Va.

He had congestive heart failure, said his daughter Carolyn Lewis.

Gen. Groves came from a family with a tradition of military service. His grandfather was an Army chaplain during the Spanish-American War and his father, Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, directed the project to build the atomic bomb during World War II. His father also oversaw the construction of the Pentagon, headquarters of the Defense Department.

Gen. Groves, like his father, was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and was a cadet when he first learned of his father’s work on the bomb. He found out the way most Americans did as well: by hearing of the attack on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

Richard Groves’s first Army assignment was in post-war Germany in the Corps of Engineers. His other assignments included postings in the British West Indies and Paris as well as two tours in Vietnam, where he worked on projects to rebuild roads and maintenance and construction of military facilities.

His final active-duty assignment, in 1982, was advising the Secretary of Defense on NATO affairs. He worked as a private consult until 2010.

Richard Hulbert Groves was born in Honolulu. At West Point, he played on two National Championship-winning lacrosse teams and was an All-American in 1944. He graduated the next year.

He received a master’s degree in soil mechanics from Harvard University in 1950 and a master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1965.

His military decorations included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal; the Army Distinguished Service Medal; three awards of the Legion of Merit; two awards of the Bronze Star Medal; and three Air Medals.

In the early 1940s, Gen. Groves had a summer job digging graves at Arlington National Cemetery. After one day’s labor, Gen. Groves went to the Army-Navy Country Club to relax by the pool and play some tennis. It was there he met the former Patricia Hook, the daughter of a Navy captain. They married in 1945.

Besides his wife, of Fort Belvoir, survivors include four children, Carolyn Lewis of Alexandria, Patricia Campbell of Tucson, Richard W. Groves of Hong Kong and Ann Odell of New Orleans; a sister; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

— T. Rees Shapiro

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