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First all-female ‘Missing Man Flyover’ to honor female aviation pioneer

As a grateful nation and community prepare to lay a female pioneer in Naval aviation to rest this weekend, a tribute that will be part of her funeral service will mark yet another milestone for female jet pilots.

Wednesday, the US Navy announced that it will conduct its first-ever all-female flyover during the graveside services for retired Naval Captain Rosemary Mariner, the Navy’s first female jet pilot, and the first female aviator to ever a command an operation air squadron. Those services are scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the New Loyston Cemetery.

Officially referred to as a “Missing Man Flyover,” the special tribute is designed to “honor the service of aviators who have died serving their country. The maneuver features four aircraft flying above the funeral service in formation as one of the aircraft leaves the formation and climbs vertically into the heavens,” according to the Navy’s announcement.

Captain Mariner passed away on January 24th at the age of 65 following a battle with cancer.

After completing flight training in 1974, Mariner was designated a naval aviator and received her Wings of Gold to became the Navy’s first female jet pilot, flying the A-4E/L “Skyhawk” and the A-7E “Corsair II”. 

She also was the first female military aviator to achieve command of an operational air squadron.  During Operation Desert Storm, Mariner commanded Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Thirty-Four (VAQ-34).  

In 1982, she reached yet another milestone by being among the first females to serve aboard a U.S. Navy warship, USS Lexington, and qualifying as a Surface Warfare Officer. 

Mariner retired from the U.S. Navy in 1997 after obtaining the rank of Captain and logging seventeen carrier arrested landings, or “traps,” and completing over 3,500 flight hours in fifteen different aircraft. 

All of the aviators participating in the flyover are from squadrons based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and will be flying F/A-18E/F “Super Hornets.”   

The participants are:

-Cmdr. Stacy Uttecht, Commanding Officer, Strike Fighter Squadron Thirty-Two (VFA-32)

– Cmdr. Leslie Mintz, Executive Officer, VFA-213

-Lt. Cmdr. Paige Blok, VFA-32

-Lt. Cmdr. Danielle Thiriot, VFA-106

– Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Hesling, NAS Oceana

-Lt. Christy Talisse, VFA-211

– Lt. Amanda Lee, VFA-81

– Lt. Kelly Harris, VFA-213

– Lt. Emily Rixey, Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic

Here is a link to Captain Mariner’s obituary announcement from Holley-Gamble Funeral Home.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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