When the U.S. military published want ads seeking female pilots in 1942, Jocelyn Moore Evernham answered the call.
Evernham was already taking flying lessons in Fort Worth, Texas, when she noticed Uncle Sam’s ad in the newspaper and immediately signed up. Out of more than 25,000 women, Evernham was one of only 1,074 who became Women Airforce Service Pilots.
After six months of training, Evernham reported to Gardner Field in California. Because women were not allowed to fly into battle, Evernham conducted test flights and transported military personnel to U.S. bases. She logged more than 260 flight hours piloting AT-6s, B-26Cs, BT-13s, PT-19s and UC-78s.
When the WASPs were deactivated in 1944, Evernham gave up flying and worked for the San Diego Unified School District. Fifty-three years later, Congress finally recognized the efforts of women in the military and extended veterans’ benefits to them.
The National Veterans’ Oral History Project videotaped Evernham’s story for posterity. Her memoirs will be completed by her daughter Lorraine, who is also a pilot.
Evernham died in July from complications of cancer. She was 91.