Today it’s almost hard to imagine a time when our military wasn’t really very open for women. Women serve in just about every critical role all across our services. Today we are saluting a woman who was a pioneer among women in the service: Rosemary Bryant Mariner of the United States Navy. Mariner logged a lot of firsts during her service but the biggest was becoming the first EVER female fighter pilot in the United States military. Mariner was selected for the Navy back in 1973 along with 7 other women. She became the first female Jet pilot in 1974 flying the A-4C and the A-7E Corsair II in 1974. Shortly after this the young aviator reported for duty aboard the USS Lexington where she qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer. Fast forward to 1990 Rosemary Mariner logged another first when she became the first ever female air squadron commander when she took command of VAQ-34 based in California. In 1997 Captain Mariner finally retired after a long and distinguished career where she opened many doors for other women in the service. Sadly Captain Rosemary Mariner passed away last January after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was just 65 years old. Captain Mariner was laid to rest in a full military honors service including the first ever all female piloted “missing man” formation flight over her service in F/A-18 Super Hornets. Many friends and admirers attended her service along with her family including the Second ever female fighter pilot AND the first ever female helicopter pilot, who were both friends and classmates of Captain Mariner. Today, we honor Captain Rosemary Mariner for her service, for her determination, and for her life well spent defending this great nation.