Vale, CPT Mariner
Texas-born Rosemary Bryant Mariner (nee Conaster) grew up in San Diego fascinated with aviation, graduating from Purdue in 1972– at age 19– with a degree in Aviation Technology, picking up both flight engineer and pilot ratings before she signed on with the Navy the next year when she became one of the first eight women to enter Naval Aviation training at NAS Pensacola.
She went on to be being assigned to fly the rather pedestrian S-2 Tracker with the “Blue Tails” of VC-2 before she checked out on both the A-4C Skyhawk and A-7E Corsair, going on to become the first woman to fly a front-line tactical aircraft in U.S. service when she joined the fleet in 1975 and later contributed to studies on the ability of female pilots to withstand G-tolerances.
When placed in command of the “Flashbacks” of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 34 (VAQ-34)– an EW squadron flying the classic ERA-3B Whale and the rarely-encountered EA-7L Corsair in 1990– she was the first American female military aviator (in any branch) to lead an operational air squadron, which she did in Desert Shield/Storm. In all, she racked up 24 years of service with over 3,500 hours in 15 different aircraft types.
After she retired she was a scholar in residence and lecturer at UT for over a decade.
She recently passed away at age 65, in the fifth year of her battle with ovarian cancer.
All of the 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.”
Stacy Uttecht, Commanding Officer, Strike Fighter Squadron Thirty-Two (VFA-32)
Leslie Mintz, Executive Officer, VFA-213
Cmdr. Paige Bloc, VFA-32
Cmdr. Danielle Thiriot, VFA-106
Cmdr. Jennifer Hesling, NAS Oceana
Christy Talisse, VFA-211
Amanda Lee, VFA-81
Emily Rixey, Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic