Barbara Allen Rainey – Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy

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Born on August 20, 1948 at Bethesda Naval Hospital, the daughter of a career Naval Officer. She was an outstanding athlete at Long Beach (CA) City College and later transferred to Whittier College in California. She was commissioned in the United States Naval Reserve in ceremonies at US Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, in December 1970, and was assigned to the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Virginia, later transferring to SACLANT in Norfolk, Virginia. Seeking a greater challenge and following in the footsteps of her US Marine Corps aviator brother, Bill, she applied to and was accepted into US Naval Flight Training School.

She was designated the FIRST female Naval Avitor in history in ceremonies at Corpus Christi, Texas, on February 22, 1974.

She married John C. Rainey, who she had met in flight training, and, pregnant with her first daughter, resigned her commission in November 1977.

She remained active in the Naval Reserves and while pregnant with her second daughter, qualified to fly the C-118 (DC-6). In 1981, with the Navy experiencing a shortage of flight instructors, she was accepted for recall to active duty as a flight instructor and was assigned to VT-3 as Naval Air Station Whiting Field, flying the T-34C Mentor.

On July 13, 1982, she was killed in a crash while practicing touch-and-go landings at Middleton Field near Evergreen, Alabama.

She was buried in Section 6 of Arlington National Cemetery beneath a stone which is enscribed

“First woman Naval aviator. Loving wife and mother.”

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