Emma Belle Petcher
Emma Belle Petcher was born March 27, 1923 in Millry, Alabama and when she graduated from high school in 1942, decided to go to Mobile in search of work. She received a high score on a mechanical aptitude test, and was put into a nine month training program for maintaining and repairing airplane accessories at Brookley Field. By the time she had completed her course, she could assemble carburetors, starters and other parts blindfolded. She was one of two women promoted to inspector, charged with examining every inch of the bombers that came in to the field for repairs and signing off on them if they were ready to be put in to action again. Petcher made $90 a month, and lived at the YWCA in Mobile.
After two years in Mobile, Petcher had saved enough money to attend the University of Alabama, but had to drop out after a semester when her funds ran out. She went to stay with her sister in Abilene, Texas, and got a job at the local air base there. She became engaged to an air force captain from New Hampshire that she met there and they were married in February of 1945.