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"Don't treat me any differently; I am the commanding officer and that's it." (Video Interview, 34:55)

   Darlene M. Iskra
Image of Darlene M. Iskra
Darlene Iskra aboard the USS Opportune
War: Persian Gulf War, 1990-1995
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Hector (AR 7); USS Opportune (ARS 41)
Service Location: Alameda, California; San Diego, California; Norfolk, Virginia; Washington, DC; Port Said, Egypt; Guam (Mariana Islands)
Highest Rank: Commander
Place of Birth: San Francisco, CA
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When Darlene Iskra enlisted in the Navy in 1979, her ambitions were modest; she was 27, coming off a divorce, her life in need of a jump start. She unwittingly caught a wave of change in that service, becoming one of the first women to graduate from dive school. Her talent for supervision and her tenacity won her a loyal following in the higher echelons of the Navy, and in December 1990, she became the first woman to take command of a U.S. Navy ship, aptly named the Opportune. Though her ship was on stand-by duty during the Persian Gulf War, Iskra's name was already secure in Naval history.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview  (62 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Complete Interview  (30 min.)
»Photo Album (5 photos)
More like this
»Forever a Soldier
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Her long path toward joining the Navy. (05:13) Bonding with other women in Officer Candidate School. (01:11) Surviving the pressures of dive school. (04:04)
Navy opening up more opportunities for women; lobbying for better positions on ships. (03:18) The politics behind getting her first command; first days aboard the Opportune. (05:40) Duties during Operation Desert Storm (05:36)
Being out of touch with the progress of the war. (03:15)  
Home » Darlene M. Iskra
  The Library of Congress
  May 29, 2007
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