William Terry Badham (born September 27, 1895 in Birmingham; died June 6, 1991 in Mentone, DeKalb County) was a World War I fighter ace, an Air Force general in World War II, a business owner and artist.
Badham was the son of Henry Lee and Helen Badham and grew up in Blount Springs. He attended preparatory school in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and enrolled at Yale University, where he played golf and football, and completed a degree in philosophy in 1917.
Badham applied to become a naval aviator, but failed a vision test. He was accepted into the Army's Officer Training School at Fort McPherson, Georgia in May 1917 and graduated with a 2nd Lieutenant's commission in November. He was deployed to France as a casual officer, but volunteered for the French air service and served as a gunner/observer on Latour and Breguet aircraft for French observation squadrons.
In May 1918, he transferred to the United States Army Air Service, and was assigned to the First Army Air Service 91st Aero Squadron, an American observation unit flying Salmson 2A2s at Gondreville-sur-Moselle Aerodrome.
Badham scored his first victory on September 15, 1918, his pilot was his commanding officer, George Kenney. For the next four, from October 23-29, 1918, it was Everett Cook. For his actions, General Billy Mitchell recommended him for a Distinguished Service Cross. On October 29, he scored the last of his five victories gained over the battlefields of Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. He was one of only four Americans to earn the title of "Ace" as an observer/gunner during that war. First Lieutenant Badham remained with the 91st until January 1919.
Badham founded the Naphthalene Products Company in 1922, using the naphthalene gas from coke ovens in the Birmingham District to manufacture items such as mothballs and insecticides. Badham returned to duty during World War II and was commissioned a brigadier general with the U.S. 8th Air Force in England and the Middle East.
After returning from the war, he patented a subliming chamber for capturing industrial gases from coal tar. He retired in 1960 and began devoting most of his time to travel with his wife, the former Margaret W. Tyson, and to painting.
Badham's watercolor landscapes have been exhibited in museums and galleries in the United States and abroad. Badham died in 1991 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.
- Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) October 23, 1918
- The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to William T. Badham, First Lieutenant (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Buzancy, France, October 23, 1918. First Lieutenant Badham gave proof of exceptional bravery while on a photographic mission 25 kilometers within the enemy lines. His plane was attacked, by a formation of 30 enemy aircraft. By skillful work with his machine-gun, Lieutenant Badham successfully repelled the attack and destroyed two German planes. At the same time he manipulated his camera and obtained photographs of great military value. (General Orders No. 7, W.D., 1919)
- Silver Star Citation (SSC) September 15, 1918
- By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved July 9, 1918 (Bul. No. 43, W.D., 1918), Second Lieutenant (Air Service) William T. Badham, United States Army Air Service, is cited by the Commanding General, American Expeditionary Forces, for gallantry in action and a silver star may be placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded him. Second Lieutenant Badham distinguished himself by gallantry in action while serving as an Observer with the 91st Aero Squadron, American Expeditionary Forces, in action near Metz, Alsace, while on a photographic mission, 15 September 1918. General Orders: GHQ, American Expeditionary Forces, Citation Orders No. 1 (June 3, 1919)
- Silver Star Citation (SSC) October 29, 1918
- By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved July 9, 1918 (Bul. No. 43, W.D., 1918), First Lieutenant (Air Service) William T. Badham, United States Army Air Service, is cited by the Commanding General, American Expeditionary Forces, for gallantry in action and a silver star may be placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded him. First Lieutenant Badham distinguished himself by gallantry in action while serving as an Observer with the 91st Aero Squadron, American Expeditionary Forces, in action in the vicinity of Grand Pre, France, 29 October 1918, while on a patrol which secured valuable photographs. General Orders: GHQ, American Expeditionary Forces, Citation Orders No. 8 (March 1, 1920)
- "William Terry Badham" at Wikipedia
- Franks, Norman (2001) American Aces of World War 1 Oxford: Osprey Publishing ISBN 9781841763750
- Badham, Thomas E. (1999) "Eyes of the Eagle, The Exploits of Henry Lee Badham, Jr. and William Terry Badham in the AEF". manuscript