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Chapter Four: Groundbreakers
Wartime calls on many to serve, but not all of them have been considered equal in status. For women and minorities, especially African Americans, a national emergency is an opportunity for advancement and for changing the culture of the military. World War II was a turning point in that struggle; it gave women their first real chance to serve in uniform, and it reminded everyone that fighting a war for freedom was meaningless without racially integrated armed forces to win that fight.
One Woman's Story - Darlene M. Iskra
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.