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Welcome to the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives. Located in Athens Alabama, we are proud to be a part of our military history with a large exhibit center, guided tours provided my local veterans, gift shop, meeting facilities, monthly coffee call and much more.

Voted as an Attraction of the Year in Alabama by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association

 


The Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives collection contains an impressive display of artifacts from the Revolutionary War until present day. Visitors can walk among the actual uniforms, medals, photos and weapons; hear stories and experiences about the nation’s wars from men and women who were actually there. With over 10,000 visitors last year, the Alabama Veterans Museum & Archives has become a vital part of Athens Alabama, not only do we draw the local public to our museum to educate and teach of the sacrifices what it takes to keep our country free, we have visitors from all over the United States and other countries.

Donations of precious military artifacts are received continually from veterans and their families who wish to see them preserved for future generations, we consider it an honor to do this. In order to continue to preserve, maintain and grow, our facility needs to expand.

In order to help raise funds for the expansion the museum will hold its 1st Militaria Collectors Show. Our show will be held on 18 & 19 Sept, 2015 and will feature military items from all wars. We also have some very special guests attending. We invite you to participate in our show, click here for registration forms and other needed information.

We look forward to working with you to ensure our first show is a success. Please contact the museum for more information @ 256-771-7578

These VIPs will be present at the Military Collector’s Show on September 19, 2015, in the Athens Event Center 9:00 to 4:00 to talk with you and answer questions. The show is sponsored by the Alabama Veterans Museum for the proposed expansion of their facilities. Some of the VIPs will have books and/or photos to autograph. They will also autograph this sheet if you will ask. If you are a student, this sheet will also serve as your admission ticket.

Jerry Barksdale
: He grew up in Athens and was inspired to become an attorney after having read about Clarence Darrow in the “Monkey Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee. He attended Athens College for 3 years and then transferred to the University of Alabama where he received his law degree. Jerry served 7 ½ years in the 20th Special Forces with the Alabama National Guard. He is a retired trial attorney after 43 years of practice. He a prolific writer, historian, traveler, emcee, story teller, and speaker. He has published several books and is a columnist for the Athens Courier and Athens Now. He is very active in veterans’ affairs, serving as a volunteer at the Alabama Veterans Museum and is on their board of directors. He has interviewed and written extensively about local veterans. His latest book, Revolutionaries and Rebels, is the story of his family from the American Revolution through the Civil War.

Corporal Robert A. “Bob” Cohen: He is a resident of Franklin, Tennessee. During WW II he served with the 3rd Division in North Africa helping to defeat General Rommel’s Africa Korps. He was with the 3rd Division when they landed in Sicily and drove the Nazis and Fascist Italian forces from the island. He participated in the beach landings at Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. In Italy, Bob was singlehandedly holding a bridge which the Germans were trying to retake. With his B.A.R., he killed 67 Nazis and destroyed a German Tiger tank. For this meritorious action, he was awarded the Silver Star. He was wounded in Italy, and after recovery was transferred to the 15th Army Air Forces and assigned to the 454th Bombardment Group who flew B-24s. In 1944, while he and other ground crews were preparing 42 aircraft for a mission, 6 ME 109 German fighter planes attacked the base. The ground crews were ordered to safety but Corporal Cohen jumped into the B-24 where he was servicing the armament, turned on the generator to make the 50 calibre machine guns operable and began firing at the German planes. He hit the first two planes and the others quickly ended the attack. The planned mission was able to proceed with 38 aircraft. For his personal skill, with disregard for his safety and with strong devotion to duty, he upheld the highest traditions of the military service. Even though for this action his commander cited him for another Silver Star, it was never approved.


Margret Mefford Campbell: She was born Margret Hoffmann in Kassel, Germany. She grew up when Hitler was in control of Germany and spent her teenage years enduring Allied bombing. Their apartment was completely destroyed by Allied bombing and the family suffered much but survived the war. Her father and uncle were drafted into the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, and her mother had a difficult time caring for the family by herself. Margret met her first husband, Leroy “Bobby” Mefford, when he was serving with the American Occupation Forces in Germany in 1955. In spite of much red tape, they were married in Germany in 1957 and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, in 1958. She studied at UAH and passed her citizenship test. She was sworn in as a U. S. citizen on June 1, 1962, in Birmingham. Her husband continued serving in the army for another 27 years when he retired, and they moved to East Limestone County. She then wrote her experiences in a book, Journey to Freedom. She has been a popular volunteer at the Alabama Veterans Museum for several years. Her first husband died in 2013, and in 2015 she married Mr. Campbell who had lost his wife in 2013. The two couples had gone to church together for 40 years. She is the most patriotic lady you will ever meet.

Corporal John R. Cotten: He lives in Athens, Alabama, and served in the USMC from 1968-1972 in Company C, 1st Engineers, 1st Marine Division as a demolition expert. He also served in several other divisions as needed. From 1968-1969, he served in Vietnam as one of the very brave volunteers called “Tunnel Rats.” The Viet Cong had built an extensive network of tunnels which contained classrooms, small theaters, kitchens, weapons factories, living quarters, hospitals, storage facilities and more. The largest complex of tunnels was about 45 miles from Saigon at Cu Chi. This underground city had about 200 miles of tunnels. The enemy would come out at night and attack U. S. Forces and disappear during the day. The Tunnel Rats were handpicked men with nerves of steel, selected for their particular ability to stay calm in highly tense situations. They could not suffer from claustrophobia and had to be of a strong but small stature. They would enter the tunnels in groups of two or three armed with only hand grenades, a pistol, a knife, and a flashlight, to do battle with the enemy. They frequently ended up in hand-to-hand combat and were subjected to snipers, booby traps, rats, snakes and scorpions. The Tunnel Rats received “hazardous pay” as extra compensation and would generally not serve more than an average of four months. He is an active member of the Marine Corps League having served in several leadership positions. His father, Julius W. Cotten, was a USMC Raider in WW II.


Corporal Julius W. Cotten: He was a member of Co. A, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines known as Carlson’s Raiders commanded by Lt. Col. Evans Carlson. On August 17-18, 1942, they participated in the first Special Forces mission of WW II known as the Makin Raid. The unit was transported to Makin Island by submarine. Makin was a small island in the Gilbert Islands controlled by the Japanese. Over a two day period, the Marines destroyed most of the enemy on the island. After being picked up by submarine, they determined that they had lost 18 men killed and 12 missing. Carlson’s Raiders participated in another famous mission know as the Long Patrol. This was a 31 day patrol behind enemy lines on Guadalcanal in November and December, 1942. The Marines killed about 500 Japanese with the loss of 16 Raiders killed and 18 wounded. At age 93, Mr. Cotten is one of the last two survivors of the Makin Raid. He is the father of veteran John Cotton who was a “Tunnel Rat” in Vietnam.

John William Davis: He is a retired US Army counterintelligence officer and linguist. After his assignment to the 101st Air Assault Division, he served in West Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands during the Cold War. There he was active in investigations directed against the Communist espionage services of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. His mission was also to investigate terrorists such as the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, and the Combatant Communist Cells among a host of others. A linguist, he worked closely as a liaison officer with investigative and police agencies in the lands where he was stationed. These stories and others are recounted in his book, Rainy Street Stories. After a career as investigator, linguist and liaison officer during the Cold War, he moved to Redstone Arsenal in Alabama where he continued his career in counterintelligence until his retirement after 37 years in the federal government. He lives in Athens, Alabama.

Captain Jerry W. Hill: He is a well known veteran and citizen who served on the Athens City Council 1986-1990. He served his country well in the U. S. Special Forces from 1958-1978. He was a member of the elite unit which made the famous raid on the North Vietnam prison camp known as Son Tay on November 21, 1970. The helicopter borne raiders landed inside and outside the walls of Son Tay, only 23 miles from Hanoi. Its mission was to free 61 American prisoners who were believed to be held captive under brutal and primitive conditions. Minutes later, after a fierce fire fight, the raiders were again airborne without suffering a single serious casualty. But they left without a single POW; the POWs had been moved. He retired as a captain with 20 years service. His awards and decorations include: The Silver Star, Bronze Star, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Combat Infantry Badge, and Combat Parachute Badge. He then went to work for the Army Aviation Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal retiring in 2004 with 28 years service.

Lt. Colonel Fred Lindsey: He is from Carmel, Indiana and is a 1954 graduate of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. He received a Master of Science degree from the University of Indiana in 1963 and a C & GS in 1966. He is the last surviving commander of CCC-SOG and tells his story in his book Secret Green Beret Commandos in Cambodia. The book tells the story of secret small groups of Special Forces who were highly trained to go behind the enemy lines to gather intelligence on North Vietnamese Army Units who had infiltrated Cambodia and Laos. They went in by foot or helicopter, and, if they were killed or captured, the U . S. Government would deny the military connection. Lt. Colonel Lindsey is a Master Parachutist and Ranger who served with the 11th Airborne, 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne and the 1st Air Cavalry Divisions. He served in the Department of the Army OP Branch and also taught at West Point. His Studies and Observation Group became the most decorated unit in the Vietnam War when they were all awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

Lt. Colonel Ed Yeilding: On March 6, 1990, he set the United States coast to coast aircraft speed record, 67 minutes 54 seconds, cruising at mach 3.3, 2190 mph, in the SR-71 Blackbird. The plane is now displayed at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. He was raised in Florence, Alabama, became an Eagle Scout, and earned an electrical engineering degree from Auburn University. He became an Air Force pilot and flew RF-4 and F-4E phantoms for nine years. As an SR-71 instructor and test pilot, he was awarded four air medals for 93 overseas reconnaissance missions. For five years at Andrews AFB, he flew C-20 Special Air Missions. After 23 years of active duty, he flew the DC-9, DC-10, and 747-400 for Northwest Airlines and is in the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. Colonel Richard Graham has a chapter about Colonel Yeilding in his book, SR-71 Blackbird:Stories, Tales, and Legends. Colonel Yeilding is now retired and lives again in Florence, Alabama.


Threads of Honor...A wonderful way to honor and remember the special Veterans in your life. More>

Hours: Monday - Saturday 0900 - 1500

 

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