She made history as a Navy pilot. An all-female squadron just flew over her funeral.

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tags: military history, womens history, Rosemary Mariner, aviation history

For Rosemary Mariner, her first flight in a new fighter jet — in this case, a Navy A7-E Corsair she was winging over north Florida in the mid-1970s — ordinarily would have been a chance for a woman and her plane to get know each other a little bit.

But nothing was ever quite ordinary for Mariner, a pioneering female aviator, and 10 minutes into the run, her radio crackled with orders to return to base. There were reporters waiting to speak to her.

Mariner’s commander at the time was a Navy officer named John McCain, a recently returned Vietnam POW still years away from his political career. But he already had a keen sense of media relations, and if the papers wanted a story about the first female military jet pilot, he was ready to oblige.

“McCain made her land so they could make their 4 o’clock deadlines,” recalled Mariner’s husband of 39 years, Tommy Mariner, himself a retired Navy lieutenant commander. “She was mad as she could be because she just wanted to take that jet out and have fun.”

Read entire article at Washington Post

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