Meet Late Army Major Marie Rossi-Cayton, The First Woman In American Military History To Fly Combat Mission

Army Major Marie Rossi-Cayton (January 3, 1959 – March 1, 1991) was the first woman in American military history to serve as an aviation unit leader in battle, and the first woman pilot in US history to fly combat flights, during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

On March 1, 1991, the CH-47 Chinook she was operating crashed in Saudi Arabia, killing her.

Army Major Marie Rossi.

The Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Military Service Defense Medal, South West Asia Service Medal with Bronze Stars, and Army Commendation Medal were all awarded to her.

Below is one ofnthe famous quotes of Major Therese Rossi-Cayton;

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“What I’m doing is no more or less than what the man flying next to me or behind me is doing…” Army Major Marie Rossi.

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Rossi was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, as a CH-47 Chinook pilot with the 18th Aviation Brigade, commanding B Company, 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.

In 1990, her company was sent to Saudi Arabia to help Operation Desert Shield.

Prior to the ground attack by Coalition forces, Rossi was interviewed by a news network.

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Army Major Marie Rossi
Rossi’s aircraft struck the tower in this photo before it crashed.
Rossi’s aircraft totally destroyed by fire after strucking a tower.

She explained, “Sometimes you have to detach how you feel emotionally about going into combat and perhaps seeing the death that will be out there.”

“But, as an aviator and a soldier, this is the time that everyone prepares for – and for which I have prepared – so I am ready to face a challenge.”

On February 24, 1991, Army Major Marie Rossi led a flight of her company’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters 50 miles (80 kilometers) into Iraq, ferrying fuel and ammunition during the early hours of the Coalition Forces’ ground assault.

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Throughout the conflict, her company would be participating in supply missions.

On March 1, 1991, the day following the truce agreement, her chopper crashed into an unlit microwave tower in Northern Saudi Arabia, killing her.

On March 11, 1991, she was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Source: Giant Killers.

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