Navy pilot remembered in first all-female flyover during funeral

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia -- A group of female pilots made history this weekend while honoring a fallen legend.

The Navy performed its first ever, all-female flyover Saturday to honor the life and legacy of the first female jet pilot, Captain Rosemary Bryant Mariner.

Captain Rosemary Mariner passed away Jan. 24 at the age of 65 following a five-year battle with ovarian cancer.

As a tribute to the trailblazer, female pilots conducted a flyover beginning at Air Station Oceana, Virginia, and ending in Maynardville, Tennessee, making history as the first ever all-female trip.

The Navy's tribute, referred to as the "missing man formation" took place during Capt. Mariner's funeral service, according to Naval Forces Atlantic. ABC News reports that the formation features four F/A-18E/F "Super Hornets" flying in formation before one jet leaves the group and climbs vertically in the sky.

Captain Mariner led an impressive life of "firsts." In 1973, she was one of eight women selected to fly military aircraft and continued on to received her "wings" from the Navy a year later, according to ABC. She was one of the first women to serve aboard a U.S Navy warship, the USS Lexington, where she also qualified as a surface warfare officer. Eight years later, Capt. Mariner became the first woman to command a military aviation squadron.

Her journey did not come as a surprise, as Capt. Mariner was born on an Air Force base in Harlingen, Texas. Her father, Captain Cecil James Bryant, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II while her mother, Constance Boylan Bryant, was a Navy nurse also during World War II. According to her husband and fellow naval aviator, Tommy Mariner, Rosemary began flying planes when she was just 15, using money she had saved from washing aircraft, ABC reports.

An alumni of the National War College, Capt. Mariner earned a masters in national security strategy. She retired from the Navy as a captain in 1997. According to Naval Air Forces Atlantic, she logged over 3,500 flight hours in 15 different air crafts throughout her time in the Navy.

In addition to her remarkable accomplishments as a woman in the Navy, Capt. Mariner is additionally remembered for how hard she pushed the boundaries of social change and fought for women in the military.

ABC News reports that according to her husband, Capt. Mariner would often say of women serving in combat: "An aircraft gun is a great equalizer."

Throughout her retirement, Capt. Mariner served as a resident scholar teaching military history at the Center for the Study or War and Society at the University of Tennessee. As stated by ABC News, she was also an adviser on both national defense policy and women's integration into the military for the U.S Navy and various media organizations, including ABC News.

U.S Navy Lieutenant Commander Danielle Thiriot says, "The doors that she opened, the battles that she fought on our behalf, are the fact that I'm able to stand here today as a combat aviator."

In addition to her husband, Capt. Mariner is survived by her daughter, Emmalee, who attends Duke University.
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