By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Sara. L. Eshleman , Navy Public Affairs Support Element East
NORFOLK, Virginia (NNS) — Honoring the life and legacy of a female pioneer in Naval aviation, the U.S. Navy will conduct Feb. 2 the first ever all-female flyover in Maynardville, Tennessee. Officially referred to as a “Missing Man Flyover,” the tribute will be part of the funeral service for one of the Navy’s first female jet pilots retired Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner, who passed away Jan. 24 following a long and brave fight 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 15 different aircraft.
The Missing Man Flyover is a special tribute honoring 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.
All of the female aviators participating in the flyover are from squadrons based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana and will be flying F/A-18E/F “Super Hornets.” The event is significant because it is emblematic of the growing role women play in the military.
The flyover is especially meaningful to Lt. Emily Rixey, assigned to Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic, a participant in the commemoration.
“I find it important to honor Capt. Mariner and the other female aviators who have come before us,” she said. “They paved the way for us and they’re the reason I’m able to participate in this flyover.”
Cmdr. Leslie Mintz, executive officer of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, expressed similar sentiments.
“I’m truly honored and humbled to be a part of this flyover,” Mintz said. “This formation flyover is a great way to honor Capt. Mariner’s memory and what she has done for our community.”
Lt. Cmdr. Paige Blok, a naval aviator with VFA-32, echoes her colleagues’ statements.
“Honoring a life of service is always a privilege,” said Blok. “We’re lucky to honor Capt. Mariner in our own special way.”
The other aviators participating in the flyover are Cmdr. Stacy Uttecht, Commanding Officer, VFA-32; Lt. Cmdr. Danielle Thiriot, VFA-106; Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Hesling, NAS Oceana; Lt. Christy Talisse, VFA-211; Lt. Amanda Lee, VFA-81; and Lt. Kelly Harris, VFA-213.