Captain Rosemary Mariner, 65, the first woman to ever fly a tactical fighter jet in the U.S. Navy, in 1975, died on January 24 after a five-year battle with ovarian cancer. To honor her during her funeral service in Maynardville, Tennessee, on Saturday, the Navy is set to perform another military first — a ceremonial flyover performed solely by women fighter pilots.
Mariner, a fearless pioneer who became one of the first eight women admitted into military pilot training in 1973, went on to fly tactical fighter jets A-4C and A-7E and to serve as the first woman to command a military aviation squadron during the 1991 Gulf War. According to her obituary, Mariner said she took guidance and inspiration from black servicemen as she fought for inclusion and acceptance within the ranks.
“My role models were African-American men who had led the vanguard in integration of race in the armed forces and studied many of the lessons that they had to pass on,” said Mariner, according to a report from NPR.
On Saturday, a group of women pilots based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia will fly F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in the U.S. military’s first all-female “missing man flyover,” a tradition established to honor deceased pilots. Among those who will reportedly participate in the flyover are Commanding Officer Stacy Uttecht, Executive Officer Leslie Mintz, Cmdr. Paige Bloc, Cmdr. Danielle Thiriot, Cmdr. Jennifer Hesling, Christy Talisse, Amanda Lee and Emily Rixey.
My friend Capt. Rosemary Mariner has died. Naval aviator wings 1974, first woman to fly tactical fighter jet 1975, first woman command ave squadron 1991 Gulf War, pres of @WomenMilAv8rs, fought combat exclusion, Mentor and Friend to countless. Irreplaceable. pic.twitter.com/dMW1MO66Hg
— Kate Sharp Landdeck (@katelanddeck) January 25, 2019
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