Oct. 21, 1918
Alvin Vogtle, born in Birmingham on Oct. 21, 1918, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in 1939 and went on to study law at the University of Alabama and the University of Virginia.
At the start of World War II, Vogtle, already a trained pilot, joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was given the nickname, “Sammy from Alabammy.” He flew 35 missions. On the final mission in January 1943, Vogtle ran out of gas and went down under fire over North Africa, where he was taken prisoner and sent to camps in Germany.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Vogtle escaped to Switzerland on March 3, 1943. He was the inspiration for the POW character played by Steve McQueen in the movie, “The Great Escape.”
After the war, Vogtle applied with Martin, Turner & McWhorter. Told there were no openings, he offered to work for free. When he learned there were no desks available, Vogtle said he would stand. His persistence won him a job with the firm, which later became Martin, Vogtle, Balch & Bingham.
Vogtle went to work for Alabama Power as head legal counsel, and after rising through the ranks, became president and CEO of Southern Company. The company named its nuclear plant near Waynesboro, Georgia, the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in his honor.
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