William S Parsons (1901 – 1953) was an American weaponeer and bomb commander who served during World War II. He was on the B29 "Enola Gay" which dropped the first atomic bomb ("Little Boy") on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945.
William Sterling Parsons was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 26, 1901. In 1918, he enrolled in the United States Naval Academy as a cadet and was commissioned Ensign when he graduated in June 1922. His first assignment was in the battleship Idaho (BB-42), which was followed by post-graduate study in ordnance engineering at the Navy Postgraduate School, Washington, D.C. He also served on board Texas (BB-35) before returning to Washington as Liaison Officer between the Bureau of Ordnance and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), where he aided in the early development of radar. In 1939 he was assigned as Experimental Officer at the Navy Proving Grounds, Dahlgren, Virginia, and helped to develop the radio proximity fuse for anti-aircraft shells for the fleet.
In June 1943, Parsons was transferred to the Los Alamos Laboratory of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, as Ordnance Division Associate Director and Officer in Charge of Project Alberta. Having witnessed the first atom bomb test (the Gadget) in New Mexico, Captain Parsons was appointed Officer-in-charge of the Overseas (Tinian, Marianas) Technical Group, and as Bomb Commander he assembled in flight the triggering device of Little Boy, the first atomic bomb used in combat over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.
On July 1, 1948, Parsons was raised to the rank of Rear Admiral. Then he served in various ordnance billets and as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission and was ordered to duty as Deputy and Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department. While serving in this capacity, he died suddenly of a heart attack December 5, 1953. Parsons was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.