Rosemary Bryant Mariner

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Rosemary Bryant Mariner
Captain Rosemary Mariner.jpg
Captain Rosemary Bryant Mariner
Rosemary Ann Bryant

(1953-04-02)April 2, 1953
DiedJanuary 24, 2019(2019-01-24) (aged 65)
Alma materPurdue University
National War College
  • Douglas Hugh Conatser
  • Tommy Mariner (m. 1980)
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1973–1997
RankUS Navy O6 insignia.svg Captain
Commands heldVAQ-34

Captain Rosemary Bryant Mariner (née Bryant; formerly Conatser; April 2, 1953 – January 24, 2019) was an American pilot and one of the first six women to earn their wings as a United States Naval Aviator in 1974.[3] She was the first female military pilot to fly a tactical jet and the first to achieve command of an operational aviation squadron.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Rosemary Ann Mariner was born in Harlingen, Texas,[6] to Cecil James Bryant and Constance Bryant (née Boylan), and grew up in San Diego, California with a keen interest in aircraft and flying. Her mother was a Navy nurse during World War II, and her father served in the US Army Air Corps during World War II and in the Air Force during the Korean War as an attack pilot. He and co-pilot Donald Carillo were killed in an accidental plane crash on March 20, 1956,[7] when Rosemary was three years old.[8]

While growing up, Mariner enjoyed watching planes at Miramar Naval Air Station, and she worked odd jobs, cleaned houses, and washed aircraft to earn money for flying lessons and flight time.[3] She graduated from Purdue University in December 1972 at age 19, becoming the first woman to graduate from the newly-created aeronautical program.[1] She earned a degree in aviation technology,[9] and also earned FAA flight engineer and pilot ratings before joining the Navy.[3] While in the Navy, Mariner earned a Master's degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College.[1]

Navy career[edit]

Capt Rosemary Bryant Mariner, in 1976, with A-7 Corsair II in the background

Rosemary Bryant Mariner (then Rosemary B. Conatser) joined the United States Navy in 1973 after being selected as one of the first eight women to enter U.S. Navy pilot training. She completed Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, then headed to Pensacola, Florida for basic flight training.[9] She was designated a Naval Aviator in June 1974 and became one of the first six women to earn their wings as a United States Naval Aviator, alongside Barbara Allen Rainey, Jane Skiles O'Dea, Judith Ann Neuffer, Ana Marie Fuqua, and Joellen Drag. In 1975, Mariner was one of the first female military aviators to fly a tactical strike aircraft, a single seat A-4E/L Skyhawk.[1] In 1976, she transitioned to the A-7E Corsair II, making her the first woman to fly a front-line tactical strike aircraft.[10]

Mariner was named as a surface warfare officer aboard the USS Lexington in 1982, becoming the first female aviator assigned to an aircraft carrier.[11] In 1987, Mariner became the first woman screened for command of an aviation unit in the U.S. Navy.[12] In 1990, she became the first woman to command an aviation squadron in the Navy[12] and was selected for major aviation shore command. During Operation Desert Storm, she commanded Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Thirty Four (VAQ-34), flying the EA-6B Prowler.[13] Mariner was president of the Women Military Aviators from 1991 to 1993.[14] In April 1993, when Les Aspin removed restrictions on female pilots flying combat missions, Mariner, along with Jane Skiles O'Dea, Commander Lin Hutton, and Naval Reserve Commander Joellen Oslund, was one of the first female aviators selected for promotion to captain in the U.S. Navy.[12]

Mariner's final military assignment was as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Professor of Military Studies at the National War College.[15] She retired after twenty-four years of military service, a veteran of seventeen carrier deployments with over 3,500 military flight hours in fifteen different Navy aircraft.[16]

Mariner's career is detailed in several books, including Crossed Currents: Navy Women from World War I to Tailhook,[3] Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution,[17] Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook,[18] and Ground Zero: The Gender Wars in the Military.[19]


Mariner retired from the Navy with the rank of captain at the end of 1997. She was a resident scholar in the Center for the Study of War and Society and a lecturer in the Department of History from 2002 to 2016 at the University of Tennessee.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Rosemary Mariner lived in Norris, Anderson County, Tennessee with her husband, retired Navy commander Tommy Mariner, and their daughter, Emmalee.[20] Mariner was a Christian, with close friend and fellow pilot Tammie Jo Shults recounting that Mariner "found her foundation in Christ."[21]


Mariner died on January 24, 2019, in Knoxville, Tennessee at the age of 65, following a five-year battle with ovarian cancer.[1][20][22]


Mariner's funeral was held on February 2, 2019, during which the United States Navy conducted an all-female pilot flyover for the first time, performing a five-aircraft Missing Man Flyover over New Loyston Cemetery in Maynardville, Tennessee.[23][24]


  • Mariner, Rosemary Bryant (January 1994). "A Soldier is a Soldier" (PDF). Joint Forces Quarterly. Winter 1993-1994 (3): 54. ISSN 1070-0692.
  • Mariner, Rosemary Bryant (Editor with G. Kurt Piehler), The Atomic Bomb and American Society: New Perspectives, University of Tennessee Press (Knoville, TN: 2008)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Goldstein, Richard (1 Feb 2019). "Rosemary Mariner, Pathbreaking Navy Pilot and Commander, Is Dead at 65". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  2. ^ Wilusz, Ryan (2 Feb 2019). "'Mission success': Navy's first woman fighter pilot honored in Tennessee with historic all-female flyover". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Ebbert, Jean and Marie-Beth Hall (1999). Crossed Currents: Navy Women from WWI to Tailhook [Revised]. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's. ISBN 978-1-57488-193-6.
  4. ^ *"Woman to Head Navy Jet Squadron". Washington Times. June 8, 1990.
  5. ^ "'A badass pilot': Capt. Rosemary Mariner, first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet, dies". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  6. ^ Texas Birth Index, 1953
  7. ^ "Crash of a Convair T-29B at Dobbins AFB: 2 killed". Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives. Retrieved 9 February 2019. The crew was performing a flight from Harlingen AFB, Texas, to New York with an intermediate stop at Dobbins AFB, Georgia. The accident occurred in unclear circumstances, killing both crew members, Cpt Cecil Bryant and 1st Lt Donald Carillo.
  8. ^ Mclaughlin, Elizabeth (2019-02-01). "Navy to honor its 1st female jet pilot with historic all-female flyover during funeral". FOURSTATESHOMEPAGE. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  9. ^ a b Douglas, Deborah G. (2003). American Women and Flight Since 1940. Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-9073-8.
  10. ^ "Rosemary Mariner, Groundbreaking Navy Aviator, Dies at 65". Stars and Stripes. 30 Jan 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  11. ^ Trevithick, Joseph (1 Feb 2019). "It Has Been One Hell Of An Important Two Weeks For U.S. Military Aviatrixes". The Drive. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Navy Personnel Command, Timeline of Women in the US Navy, & Firsts | |date= |accessdate=2013-01-24
  13. ^ Nora Zamichow (June 25, 1990). "For Her, Sky's No Limit Command of Aviation Squadron Is Next Step in Cmdr. Mariner's Pioneering Career". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ "Women Military Aviators".
  15. ^ a b Dunlap, Karen (29 Jan 2019). "In Memoriam: Rosemary Mariner". The University of Tennessee, Knoxville News. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  16. ^ Patrick Pexton (May 16, 1997). "Closing Out First-Filled Careers: Navy's Female "Gray Eagles Are Calling it a Day."". Navy Times.
  17. ^ Holme, Jeanne Maj Gen, USAF (Ret) (1972). Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution [Revised Edition]. Novato, California: Presidio Press. ISBN 0891414509.
  18. ^ Zimmerman, Jean (1995). Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-47789-5.
  19. ^ Franke, Linda Bird (1997). Ground Zero: The Gender Wars in the Military. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-80974-8.
  20. ^ a b "Captain Rosemary Bryant Mariner obituary". Holley-Gamble Funeral Home. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  21. ^ Inskeep, Steve (28 Jan 2019). "Remembering Barrier-Breaking Naval Aviator Rosemary Mariner". Morning Edition, NPR. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Navy's first female jet pilot dies at 65 after losing battle with ovarian cancer". Connecting Vets. 28 January 2019. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  23. ^ Fortin, Jacey. "U.S. Navy Performs Its First All-Female Flyover to Honor Rosemary Mariner". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  24. ^ Capps, Andrew (2 Feb 2019). "All-female flyover makes history to honor groundbreaking Capt. Rosemary Mariner". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved 9 February 2019.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]