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She Seized an 'Opportune' Moment

When Darlene Iskra enlisted in the Navy in 1979, her ambitions were modest. She was 27, recently divorced, her life in need of a jump-start. She fortunately enlisted when a change in Navy policies resulted in greater opportunities for women. Iskra became 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 ranks 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.

Darlene M. Iskra aboard the USS Opportune USS Indianapolis refueling prior to Iwo Jima

The stories of Darlene Iskra and others are in a new presentation from the Veterans History Project Web site. "Forever a Soldier" complements the new Library of Congress volume "Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service." The book, scheduled for release in early November, can be pre-ordered. It contains 37 tales of servicemen and women who served America in every major war from World War I through the current conflict in Iraq.

For a list of 25 online presentations related to various aspects of war and the military, visit the American Memory page devoted to this topic.

A. Photographer unknown. [Darlene M. Iskra aboard the USS Opportune.] Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Photographer unknown. [USS Indianapolis refueling prior to Iwo Jima,] Feb. 14, 1945. From the story of Giles McCoy Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.