Henry Badham Jr

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Henry Lee Badham, Jr (born November 1892 in Birmingham; died 1978) was a World War I aviator, long-time president of the Bessemer Coal, Iron, and Land Company, and an Air Force Brigadier General in World War II.

Badham, son of Henry Lee and Helen Terry Badham, was raised at Blount Springs and graduated from Yale University in 1912. After returning to Alabama he enlisted in the Alabama National Guard as a private in the Mounted Light Artillery. In 1916 he participated in the Mexican Border Campaign against Pancho Villa and was promoted to Corporal. At the outset of World War I he volunteered for the Aviation Section of the United States Signal Corps and recieved ground training at the Georgia Technical College in Atlanta before he was sent to the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center at Tours, France for flight training. Soon he was transferred to Avord for advanced training and earned his wings as a member of the French Air Corps before receiving his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. He remained at Issoudun as an instructor for the remainder of the war, having been injured during an accident on May 18, 1918. He was discharged from the Air Service on February 5, 1919.

Back in Birmingham, Badham joined with James Meissner in the founding of the Birmingham Aero Club, which was soon authorized as the 106th Observation Squadron of the Alabama National Guard, based at Roberts Field. After eight years as a pilot in the squadron, Badham was promoted to Major and given command of the unit.

Badham was activated again in November 1940 for service as a Senior Pilot in World War II. He was made acting Chief of Aviation for the 4th Army Corps during the Carolina War Maneuvers. In December he organized that unit's 71st Observation Group which conducted anti-submarine patrols from the US west coast. In 1942 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel an placed in charge of the Aviation Section at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1943 he was sent to the 5th Air Force as a Commander under General George Kenney, evaluating B-24 Liberator raids against Japanese forces in New Guinea. Badham was promoted to Colonel later that year. In 1944 he was placed in command of the 1402nd Air Transport Command Base Unit at Bovington Air Base England, a major transport hub which also served as a primary passenger terminal for VIP aircraft. He earned a Bronze Star during his service, leaving active duty in February 1946.

Back in Birmingham, Badham organized the 19th Bombardment Wing at the Birmingham Municipal Airport and served as its commander. He was promoted to Brigadier General in January 1947 and continued to command Birmingham's 514th Troop Carrier Wing and the 319th Bombardment Wing until he retired in 1951.

Badham, who served as president and chairman of the board of the Bessemer Coal, Iron, and Land Company from 1925 to 1977, died in 1978 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery. He was survived by his son, film director John Badham, and daughter, actress Mary Badham.

Badham was inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007.


  • Badham, Thomas E. (1996) Eyes of the Eagle: The Exploits of Henry Lee Badham, Jr. and William Terry Badham in the AEF. self-published

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