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First Name: Marie

Last Name: Rossi-Cayton

Birthplace: Orade, NJ, USA

Gender: Female

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Therese

Maiden Name: Rossi

Date of Birth: 03 January 1959

Date of Death: 01 March 1991

Rank: Major

Years Served:
Marie Therese Rossi-Cayton

•  Gulf War (1990 - 1991)


Marie Therese Rossi-Cayton
Major, U.S. Army

Marie Therese Rossi was born on 3 January 1959 in Oradell, NJ. She graduated from River Dell High School in Oradell, NJ, and went to Dickinson College, where she graduated in 1980 with a BA in Psychology. She also took ROTC in college, and upon her graduation, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Entering the Army, she learned to fly helicopters and by 1991, she was commanding Company B of the Second Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 18th Aviation Brigade, a CH-47D Chinook helicopter company. At the time, she was married to CWO John Anderson Cayton, another helicopter pilot. When the Gulf War broke out, both she and her husband deployed to Saudi Arabia, where they served in different units, in accordance with Army policy to separate spouses.

Rossi became the first woman U.S. combat commander to fly into battle when her unit was tasked to fly fuel and ammunition to the rapidly advancing 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. She was often dropping the fuel and ammunition supplies ahead of the advancing friendly forces, deep into enemy territory. The day before the war began; she was interviewed by CNN Television, in which she talked about her role as a woman flying into the combat zone. She indicated that it was "no big deal" and that as an aviator, she "felt ready for the challenge." She also said, "What I'm doing is no greater or less than the man who is flying next to me or in back of me..."

She and her crew were killed when their helicopter flew into an unlighted microwave relay tower in bad weather at night, while returning to their base in Saudi Arabia. The accident occurred on 1 March 1991; the day after the ceasefire agreement.


In 1992, she was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame.

Death and Burial

Major Marie Therese Rossi-Cayton died on 1 March 1991 is Saudi Arabia. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 3024   Created by: MHOH




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