Major Marie T. Rossi
Major Rossi died at age 32 on March 1, 1991, when
the Chinook helicopter she was piloting flew into an unlighted microwave
tower at night and in bad weather the day after the Operation Desert Storm
ceasefire had come into effect. The crash took place near her base
in northern Saudia Arabia and also claimed the lives of three others in
The unit she commanded, Company "B" of the 159th Aviation
Battalion, 24th Infantry Division, had been among the very first American
units to cross into enemy held territory and spent the pivotal days of
the operation flying fuel and ammunition to the rapidly advancing 101st
and 82nd Airborne Divisions.
A graduate of River Dell Regional High School near
her home in Oradell, New Jersey, she entered Dickinson in the autumn of
1976 and graduated with her class of 1980 as a Psychology major. While
at the College she was an Outstanding R.O.T.C. cadet.
Major Rossi is buried in Arlington Cemetery, the only
female casualty of the Gulf War so honored. Her simple epitaph there
commemorates her pioneering sacrifice and reads "First Female Combat Commander
To Fly into Battle."