Rosemary Mariner was the first woman to fly a fighter jet in the U.S. Navy and she recently passed away after losing her fight with ovarian cancer. But she’s still helping pave the way for women because the Navy has honored her legacy with their first ever all-female flyover at her funeral.
Flyovers are common at Navy funerals, but this is the first time they’ve had one with all-female pilots, which is perfect, because Mariner helped make it all possible. She broke new ground for women beginning with joining the Navy at 19 and being one of six women who were the first to enter the Navy’s flight school in 1973 when they finally allowed women. Then in 1978, Mariner became the first female fighter jet pilot in the Navy after a court ruling declared the policy preventing women from serving on Navy ships to be unconstitutional.
“She not only kicked doors open, she put a doorstop in the door and told others behind her to go through,” explains Katherine Sharp Landdeck, one of Mariner’s former students.
Mariner went on to become the first woman to serve on a Navy warship, then she served on the Staff of the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon. She continued to change rules that kept women from combat roles and she was very much a trailblazer. And at her funeral Saturday, Commander Stacy Uttecht, Commander Leslie Mintz, Lieutenant Commander Paige Blok and Lieutenant Commander Danielle Thiriot were the women who got to make history by being in the first all-female flyover to honor her.