By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — Nerses “Krik” Krikorian was 4-years-old when he first stepped on US soil. Born on the side of a Turkish road in 1921 as his parents were fleeing the Armenian Genocide, his family spent the next four years moving from country to country with only the clothes on their backs. On the way, his brother was born in Aleppo, Syria.
Canada became their final refuge. The family finally found its American home in Niagara Falls, NY, when Krik was 4, his father becoming a factory worker, and his mother a homemaker after having their youngest child.
He remembered many years later, that all that moving from place to place was a “tortured way of living, because you don’t belong anywhere.”
With such bleak beginnings, Krikorian’s future seemed anything but promising. From age 4 to 96, when he died in Los Alamos, NM, his story is anything if not amazing. He was one of the most famed scientists and intelligence analysts in America, having been a major player on the Los Alamos Manhattan Project which eventually created the first nuclear weapon.
His first job was at Union Carbide in 1943, following a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. The lab made highly enriched uranium. He was, however, unaware that he was ensconced in the Manhattan Project which dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima.