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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
Collection image
Darlene Iskra aboard the USS Opportune
War: Persian Gulf War, 1991
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)
Rank: Commander
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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 
Download: video (62 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (30 min.)
»Photo Album  (5 photos)
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»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)  

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  October 26, 2011
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