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masthead edition

Gerry Hodges

Gerry Hodges


July, 11 2019

Gerry Hodges
Behind Nazi Lines
"The Story of Gerow Hodges"


Thursday, October 10

Bill Finch


To Preserve And


Remembering Craig Allen Jr.

—by: Dr. Edward Stevenson, M.D

Craig Allen Jr. Obituary 
Birmingham News, 
Friday, May 17, 2019

Craig Allen Jr. Obituary
Birmingham News,
Friday, May 17, 2019


raig was President of the Birmingham Jefferson County Historical Society in 2006. He and his wife Laurie brought the refreshments before Harry and Jeannie Bradford took on that chore.

Craig helped proof read Jim Bennett’s Blach’s, The Store, The Family, Their Story. Craig, Tom West and Bayard Tynes proof-read galleys of the book on many Sunday afternoons.

He arranged for the use of the offices of The Redstone Club in Office Park as the first offices and artifact storage space for the Birmingham History Center. He was an important leader of our association, as well as the History Center at a time of transition and growth. He was a member of the Jefferson County Historical Association’s Board of Directors for many years.

Craig Allen Jr. died on May 17th, 2019. He was 72 years old. Craig was proceeded in death by his parents Christine Headley Allen and Craig Allen Sr.

He is survived by his wife Laurie Miller Allen, sons William Miller Allen (Bethy) and Christopher Craig Allen (Stacey) and brother, Charles Headley Allen (Chip) (Elizabeth). Craig was born in Birmingham, on March 17th, 1947.

He attended the University of Richmond and served in the Alabama National Guard, He graduated from the University of Alabama.

He married the former Laura (Laurie) V. Miller in 1977. Craig worked in his family business, Wilcox and Allen, with partner Charles S. Wilcox.

He enjoyed his hobbies of history, music, and vintage automobiles.




Dan Puckett

Jim Hard

Harry Bradford


Cathy Criss Adams
Dr. Leah Rawls Atkins
Thomas E. Badham
Jeanne B. Bradford
David Bright
Thomas N. Carruthers,Jr.,
Walter W. Dean, Jr.
Judy S. Haise
George L. Jenkins
J. Randall Pitts, Jr.
Catherine Pittman Smith
Mary Ellen West


Edward W. Stevenson, MD


J. Morgan Smith
Margaret D. Sizemore
Elmer C. Thuston, Jr.
Chriss Doss
Betsy Bancroft
Tillman W. Pugh
William A. Price
Thomas M. West, Jr.
Madge D. Jackson
Thad G. Long
Don G. Watkins
Fred M. Jackson, III
Thomas O. Caldwell, MD
Charles A. Speir
Craig Allen, Jr.
Edward W. Stevenson, MD
Jim Bennett
Alice McSpadden Williams
Thomas N. Carruthers
Alice McSpadden Williams


Tom Badham, Editor
Tom Badham, Editor
Jim LaRussa, Graphic Designer

Message from the President

W. Dan Puckett

W. Dan Puckett


hen the subject of history comes up, most people express at least some interest in it. Particularly local history. And, they have an appetite for learning more. Often, an informed speaker feeds their desire to learn. Your Association has a long history of providing lectures by talented, informed historians, authors and other speakers. Our membership looks forward to those presentations and we are committed to continuing those.

There are others interested in history that may find it more attractive when presented in other ways or mediums such as on-site lectures, tours, video presentations or family-friendly events. Many of our programs would be instructive and beneficial to school students. There are many opportunities to reach others with the lessons of history. Since one of the objectives of your Association is to provide historical information to as many as possible, your board will be considering plans on how to accomplish this.

We also want to make sure we stay in touch with you. Improvements for communicating with you and providing other channels of delivery for information to you are underway. Those are likely to include an improved and interactive website, a blog, social media such as Instagram and more use of e-mail.

One of those responsible for building your Association and leading it as president and a long-time member of the board was Craig Allen, Jr. We all certainly benefit from his many contributions. His recent death is a sad event for all of us. We extend our sympathy to his wife Laurie and their family.

Be sure to join us on Thursday, July 11 for the story of a real World War ll hero, Gerow Hodges, told by his son Gerry Hodges.

Please join us Wednesday, April 10th !

— W. Dan Puckett, President

Some of Birmingham’s Prominent Men

Give Their Views on Woman Suffrage

"Here are views expressed by some of Birmingham’s well known men on woman suffrage:"

"Henry L. Badham, president Bessemer Coal, Iron and Land company:

‘I was glad to note in Saturday’s Age-Herald so strong an editorial favoring equal suffrage. It was a clear-cut policy, pro-suffrage, pro-federal amendment, pro-ratification by the Alabama legislature. The paper is to be congratulated, not only that it has thrown its influence on the side of justice and right, but the manner of its doing the big thing in a big way."’


A Progress Report on the

Birmingham History Center Collection at Vulcan Park and Museum


ulcan Park and Museum is excited to announce that several new collections projects will soon be underway, and is seeking volunteers interested in working with the artifacts.

The staff at Vulcan Park and Museum are gearing up to begin a Cataloging and Inventory project of the entire collection beginning in August. This will provide information needed on the space required for housing the collection and the conditional needs of the artifacts that will feed the master planning for future expansion of the museum and its exhibits. This project was identified as a priority by the Conservation Assessment for Preservation (CAP) evaluation performed during the Fall of 2018.

In this project, staff and volunteers will work together to properly document provenance, measurements, and condition. In order to successfully do this, Vulcan Park and Museum needs volunteers to help. There will be a training scheduled for August. If you are interested in becoming a trained volunteer for this cataloging and inventory project, please contact Lindsay Elliott at Email:
or 205-933-1409 x112.

The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) has selected Vulcan Park and Museum to participate in their Risk Assessment and Emergency Preparedness program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH.)

The CCAHA will send a member of their Preservation Services team to do an on-site Risk Assessment to identify and prepare and plan for potential threats and risks to the collection. They will also work with staff to create strategies for mitigating those risks. The risk assessment will lay the framework and serve as a starting point for the development of an emergency preparedness and response plan.

Birmingham Temple of Travel exhibit at Vulcan Park.

Birmingham Temple of Travel exhibit at Vulcan Park.

An emergency preparedness and response plan is an integral part of a comprehensive preservation program. The preparation and continued updating of a plan has several benefits including identification of areas of risk and hazards, establishment of procedures and systems to mitigate potential risks, determination of collections priorities, and development of procedures for quick response to limit damage to collections. Writing an emergency preparedness and response plan is one of the mid-term recommendations identified in VPM’s recent CAP Assessment of the collection, moving VPM significantly forward in its care of the collection and creating its Preservation Plan.

The Birmingham History Center Collection will continue to be featured in displays around the city. In July, Vulcan Park and Museum will install two new displays, one in the Mountain Brook City Hall Case, the other in the Alabama Theater. All will feature artifacts and images from the collection. There will also be a new display created for the Birmingham Airport that will also include artifacts and images from the collection. Vulcan Park and Museum is looking forward to this new and great opportunity to share Birmingham’s history with its traveling residents and visitors.

Vulcan Park and Museum’s next exhibit in its onsite Linn-Henley gallery will present the story of Birmingham’s Women’s Suffrage movement. Set to open in January 2020, the exhibit will commemorate the history of women’s suffrage and specifically explore Birmingham’s contribution to the movement. In order to make this exhibit a success, Vulcan Park and Museum invites you to share your stories and your artifacts for the exhibit! If you have an artifact you would like to loan or donate, please contact Lindsay Elliott at
205-933-14090 x112 or Email:


John M. Donelson and "That’s All…Brother"

Condensed from Flight Lines, Southern Museum of Flight Magazine, March 2019

Actual C-47 flown by Col. John M. Donelson as he led the first wave of paratroopers. Inset Photo: Maj. Gen. John M. Donelson.

Actual C-47 flown by Col. John M. Donelson as he led the first wave of paratroopers. Inset Photo: Maj. Gen. John M. Donelson.


n the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, some 800 planes dropped thousands of paratroopers onto the beaches of occupied France, launching Mission Albany, part of the airborne assault on D-Day. Those planes were led by the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, "That’s All...Brother", that was flown by a pilot from Birmingham, Alabama, then Lt. Col. John M. Donalson.

This C-47 led a formation of 432 C-47’s that dropped thousands of paratroopers behind enemy lines June 6, 1944, in the Invasion of Normandy. "That’s All, Brother" will retrace the flight route this summer.

A group of 18 American restored World War II planes known as the D-Day Squadron will make the transatlantic trip to participate in Dakotas Over Normandy. The event features a flyover of more than 30 international aircraft dropping about 250 paratroopers on the shores of Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack.

Donalson joined National Guard in Alabama as 106th Observation Squadron Pilot Trainee. Graduating from Flight School in Texas with Charles Lindberg in 1925, he became Commander of National Guard unit in 1940 before being activated for Regular Service. He became a US Army Air Force Base Commander training with the Airborne Regiments in the States before being ordered to England.

In the early morning of June 6, 1944, he flew in the lead troop plane on the Normandy D-Day invasion as well as many other paratroop drops, glider drops and supply drops.

After World War II, Colonel John M. Donalson became Chief of Staff for the Alabama State Governor. When the Air Force became a separate branch of service as the USAF in 1948, he became a founding Commander of postwar Alabama Air National Guard unit in Birmingham, retiring as a Major General. General Donalson passed away in 1987.

"We are very proud of our history in this unit, so it gives us a chance to reflect on that history,” says Lt. Col. Adams, the current Commander of the 117th Air Refueling Wing, Alabama ANG. General Donalson was the 2nd person inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame.

In late evening the night before, a group of Pathfinders from the 101st Airborne Division were tasked with marking the drop zones. The Pathfinders used lights and radar beacons to guide the more than 13,000 jumpers who would immediately follow in the all-out airborne assault.

Then in the early morning of June 6, 1944, the first Douglas C-47 Skytrain led a formation of 432 C-47’s that crossed the coastline of Normandy, France, and let loose the paratroopers that began the invasion of Europe to hit the strategic bridges and road crossings. The popular story was that Col. John M. Donalson piloted the lead aircraft of the invasion force.

In 2006, Matt Scales, a member of the Alabama Air National Guard’s 106th Air Refueling Squadron became fascinated with the history of his squadron, especially the period in World War II when it flew B-25s in the South Pacific.

One day Scales heard that a member of the 106th had flown the lead C-47 on D-Day. "I didn’t understand how this was possible, as, on June 6, 1944, the 106th Squadron was about as far away from Normandy as humanly possible," says Scales. Scales spent a couple of months at the Air Force Historical Research Agency and researched both Donalson and the aircraft flown on D-Day.

He found the aircraft tail number, 42-92847, which had been registered as N88874 and, in 2007, was owned by someone in Mesa, Arizona. At first, Scales thought he had uncovered The Belle of Birmingham, the C-47 that Donalson, who was specially chosen to lead the squadron on D-Day, ordinarily flew while in training with the 101st Airborne Division. But he learned that Donalson chose another C-47 as the lead because Belle of Birmingham was his pride and joy and he didn’t want it scarred by the installation of equipment that was used to follow the pathfinder’s signals.

Col. Donalson named this aircraft “That’s All…Brother” as a message to Hitler that his plans were done with the invasion. Scales also learned the Belle of Birmingham had been scrapped in Mexico during the 1970s. That’s All... Brother survived the war and was sold as surplus. It was restored as an attack gunship variant of the C-47 used in Vietnam by an Arizona buyer.

A few years later, Scales found out the C-47 had been sold to an outfit in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Plans were to convert the aircraft to a twin-engine turboprop. The Commemorative Air Force, an organization based in Dallas that collects and restores historical aircraft for flight, bought That’s All... Brother in 2015 and began a restoration with help from the technicians at Basler Turbo Conversions. (Basler was the "bone yard" where the plane had been found.) The hope is to get the job done in time so "That’s All...Brother" is able to fly over Normandy on June 6, 2019 for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. On June 6th, thirty restored C-47’s with "That’s All… Brother!" leading them will take part in the celebrations.

General Donelson’s Hall of Fame plaque located at the Southern Museum of Flight.

General Donelson’s Hall of Fame plaque located at the Southern Museum of Flight.

The D-Day Crew of “That’s All….Brother” - l to r: Lt. Col. John M. Donalson, Command Pilot; S.Sgt. Woodrow S. Wilson,
Radio Operator; 1st Lt. Barney Blankenship, Co-Pilot; Lt. Col. David E. Daniel, Pilot; S.Sgt. Harry A. Chalfant, 
Crew Chief; 2nd Lt. John N. Shallcross, Navigator; and 2nd Lt. Robert G. Groswird, Extra Navigator.

The D-Day Crew of “That’s All….Brother” - l to r: Lt. Col. John M. Donalson, Command Pilot; S.Sgt. Woodrow S. Wilson,
Radio Operator; 1st Lt. Barney Blankenship, Co-Pilot; Lt. Col. David E. Daniel, Pilot; S.Sgt. Harry A. Chalfant,
Crew Chief; 2nd Lt. John N. Shallcross, Navigator; and 2nd Lt. Robert G. Groswird, Extra Navigator.



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