Whidbey Crosswind The Puget Sound Veterans’ Monthly | March 2013
A change of command
Johnston reflects on time on Whidbey z pg. 2
Serving WHIDBEY ISLAND’S VETERANS, retired military personnel and families
On Base By JUSTIN BURNETT
fter three and a half years at the stick, Capt. Jay Johnston turned over leadership of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in February. Command was passed to Capt. Michael K. Nortier, a native of Sodus, N.Y., in a formal ceremony on base. Nortier reports to the airbase from U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Operations Directorate. Although the ceremony occurred after press time and could not be reported on in this month’s Crosswind, Johnston sat down for an in-person interview Tuesday morning and shared his thoughts on the past three years.
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Plans to station 24 of the new jets on Whidbey Island came into question in early 2011 when capital cost concerns threatened to bump the airbase to third in line to receive the aircraft. Many were worried that the Navy would reevaluate its plans completely and that Oak Harbor would be nixed altogether. Johnston and his team put their heads together and drafted a plan to modify existing hangars, rather than build new ones, to accommodate the arriving jets. It was efficient and got results. “That got everyone’s attention and, along with the national defense strategy’s pivot to the Pacific, that made Whidbey the most attractive base to put the P-8A,” Johnston said. Encroachment and noise
Fighting for Poseidons
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frame, the P-8A jets are the long awaited replacement for the P-3 Orion turbo-prop, the Navy’s venerable but antiquated sub-hunter and surveillance aircraft.
First and foremost, Johnston said one of the biggest challenges and greatest achievements of his tenure surrounds the planned arrival of four squadrons of P-8A Poseidons, beginning in 2015. “I’ll call that an accomplishment although I won’t be around to see it because that’s been two years of hard math, hard engineering and hard work,” Johnston said. Based on the 737-800 air-
Mitigating issues at Boardman Bombing Range in Northeastern Oregon has been another challenge. The facility may be little known to many on Whidbey Island but it’s base property, just like Outlying Field Coupeville, and is a critical asset for pilot training, Johnston said. The area surrounding the 72-square-mile range, and up to about 20,000 in altitude, is restricted air space. It’s the only one available to Whidbey
pilots and is essential for the low altitude, tactical training that goes on there. The area has come under threat, however, by developers who want to build, and in some cases already have, wind farms with turbines that soar as high as 500 feet into the air. It’s a very real threat to pilot safety, he said. “You’ve got $100 million airplanes that these kids are bending around at 500 feet off the ground,” Johnston said. “You need clean airspace to do that in.” Incidentally, one of the companies interested was from China and was deemed a threat to national security by the president. Working with the remaining developers has been difficult; the community is about 250 miles away and a tight budget means Johnston’s had to seek “compatible solutions” rather than pricey acquisitions. By comparison, facilitating communication with Central Whidbey residents over noise concerns at Outlying Field Coupeville has been far easier, though finding a solution has been challenging as well. Despite claims that citizen complaints have fallen on deaf ears or that Navy officials don’t understand the severity of the issue, Johnston said that’s not the case. “I’ve been flying here since 1996; I get it,” Johnston said. The Navy has taken strides to be better neighbors, such as printing flight schedules, meeting with elected officials
and tailoring “operations to have the least impact,” but there isn’t much else that can be done, he said. Some have voiced hopes that the Navy might purchase new land and train elsewhere but the realities of military spending today might as well make that an impossibility, Johnston said. “There’s no money to develop additional training airspaces or runways … so it’s up to us to be the best stewards of what we have,” he said. “That means using Coupeville and getting along with Coupeville folks the best we can.” Will be missed
Although he didn’t mention them at the time, Johnston has several other accomplishments to be proud of. Under his tenure, Navy Region Northwest selected the airbase as the best naval installation in the Northwest twice during the past three years, and won three Secretary of the Navy Platinum Energy Awards. Not only has he been a leader and city partner, but the Johnston family is a true member of the community; Cheryl Johnston, his wife, is a teacher and their three sons attended Oak Harbor schools – two were on the Wildcats football team when it won the state title in 2006. Johnston’s next assignment will take him to Washington, D.C. where he will work as the Operations Director at Naval Installations Command headquarters.
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Commander Jay Johnston reflects on his time serving at NAS Whidbey Island.
Family Affairs State Sen. Patty Murray discusses her background in a military family during the 2013 Military Officers Association of America’s Military Spouse Symposium.
Client to Close
New Oak Harbor veterans group offers chance to share memories and provide support for others.
Lions Club International offers new veterans support program called Project New Hope.
The tip of the spear
Commander Darlene Iskra retired from the Navy in 2000, after serving 21 years. She helped pave the way for women in the military.
Women at arms The parents of Megan McClung, a Marine killed in Iraq, say she would have been pleased with the new policy allowing women in combat.
Finding new hope
Charter member Class
A change of command
Coming Home Fred McCarthy, executive director for the Veterans Resource Center, features Langley winery Comforts of Whidbey and the support they give for veterans.
Whidbey Crosswind Staff Publisher..............................................................KEVEN GRAVES Editor.................................................................Megan hansen Contributing Writer..............................................................Staff Administrative Assistant.........................................Connie Ross Advertising Manager......................................... Lee Ann Mozes
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First woman to lead state veteran affairs Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Lourdes E. Alvarado-Ramos as the first woman to serve as director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. “Words cannot describe how honored I am to serve you as Director of this great agency,” Alvarado-Ramos said. “Together we have worked to improve the lives of veterans and their families and my goal is to continue empowering you to make a difference for veterans each and every day.” Alvarado-Ramos joined WDVA in 1993 and was appointed deputy director in 2005. She has a unique understanding of the agency, having led the Veterans Services Division and each of the State Veterans Homes as Superintendent. Alvarado-Ramos served 22 years on active duty, retiring in August 1993 as Command Sergeant Major and Troop Command Sergeant Major of Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis.
During her military career, she was the recipient of numerous awards and decorations including the Legion of Merit, Order of Military Medical Merit and Expert Field Medical
“Today is a great day for veterans and their families in Washington state,” said retiring WDVA Director John Lee. “Alfie is clearly the right person to provide a new vision and focus leading this agency into its next chapter of Serving Those Who Served.” The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs serves as an advocate for our state’s military veterans and their families, in recognition of their service and sacrifice to our country. WDVA operates three State Veterans Homes which provide long-term nursing care and offers a number of programs ranging from PostTraumatic Stress Disorder Counseling to services for homeless veterans.
Freeland quilt project to help vets Anyone who would like to participate in making a quilt for a combat veteran can do so as part of a new program called “Under Our Wings.” Participants don’t need to own a sewing machine or know how to sew. At an upcoming workshop sponsored by Island Fabric and Sewing Center, persons who wish to make a Quilt of Valor (QOV) will do so under the wings of accomplished quilt makers, or “coaches.” The coach brings a sewing machine and tools to the workshop. The “rookie” buys a kit for a lap-size quilt. There is no other charge. The coach does the cutting, pinning and pressing, assisting the rookie to sew simple patchwork blocks. If you prefer not to sew the
Oak Harbor man graduates basic Army Pvt. RICHARD L. BARAN graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons
quilt, you can buy a kit and it will be completed by a volunteer. The first Under Our Wings workshop is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 9, 2013 at Island Fabric and Sewing Center, an Official Under Our Wings Quilt Shop, 1592 Main St. in Freeland. Call 360-331-7313 for information or stop by the store to register and select a kit. The Quilts of Valor Foundation has made quilts for American armed service members touched by war since 2003, so far presenting some 34,000 quilts to wounded warriors including combat veterans from current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as from World War II, the Korean defenses available to the infantry crewman. Baran is the son of Rick Baran of Oak Harbor, and Ethan Baran of Burlington. He is a 2011 graduate of Oak Harbor High School.
Daniel finishes nuclear program Navy Petty Officer Third Class JACOB M. DANIEL has graduated from the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C. Nuclear Power School is a rigor-
War, and the Vietnam War. Recipients often comment that nothing has helped the healing process more than the comfort of the quilt they received. Quilts constructed in these workshops are quilted by volunteer longarm quilters in the local area, then returned to the quilt shop for binding. Coaches help their rookies do the finishing, which includes a label and presentation pillow case. Windermere Real Estate/South Whidbey has volunteered to pay for the shipping of the finished quilts. The QOV Foundation can assist the quilt shop in locating combat veterans locally to receive the quilts ous, six-month course that trains officer and enlisted students in the science and engineering fundamental to the design, operation and maintenance of naval nuclear propulsion plants. Graduates next undergo additional instruction at a prototype training unit before serving as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard a nuclear-powered surface ship or as an Electronics Technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine. Daniel is the son of Jeniffer Daniel and Kevin Davis, both of Oak Harbor. He is a 2009 graduate of Oak Harbor High School.
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By KEVAN MOORE At a recent event in Tacoma, Senator Patty Murray shared some personal history about growing up with a father who was a veteran and the work she’s doing to help military spouses. The 2013 Military Officers Association of America’s (MOAA) Military Spouse Symposium, titled “Keeping a Career on the Move,” brought service members, veterans and military spouses together with local business experts and employers. “Now, often times when I thank the spouses of service members I get the same modest answers back,” Murray told the crowd. “I hear, ‘Oh, don’t thank me, thank my husband or thank my wife’ or I hear, ‘It’s not that big of a deal.’ But the truth is — it is a big deal.” Murray went on to talk about growing up in a military family. Her father fought in World War II, was one of
the first on the beaches of Okinawa, received a Purple Heart and came home from war to start a big family in Bothell. Murray was a twin and one of seven children in the family. When she turned 15, though, things changed dramatically for her and her family. “My father, who had up until that point run a five and dime store on Main Street in Bothell, fell ill, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and within a few short years he could no longer work,” Murray said. At that point, everything fell to Murray’s mother to take care of seven kids, a husband whose medical bills were mounting, and very few of the skills she needed to go out and find a job that would actually pay her well enough to support the family. For a little while, the family relied on food stamps and Murray and her siblings thought there would be no way to leave the family to go
Senator Patty Murray shares personal history growing up in a military family at MOAA symposium. off to college. “But my mother was brave enough to reach out for help — and thankfully the country her husband had sacrificed for was there to answer her calls,” Murray said. “Through a program established by the federal government my mom was able to enroll in courses at Lake Washington Vocational School where she got a two year degree in accounting that helped her find work that would support our family.” That help from the federal government got the Murrays back on their feet. It also paved the way for Murray and her siblings to go on to successful careers. “So these days, whenever I talk to military spouses — who not only faces similar difficulties, but who also must constantly worry about the safety of their loved one. It forces me to ask — are we as a nation there for today’s families the way we were there for mine?”
Murray said that when it comes to making sure that military spouses and children are above water, the government is doing some, but not enough. She noted that employment efforts have expanded in recent years so that they don’t just focus on veterans and active-duty military members, but also on military spouses. “We have seen many spouses take advantage of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, an Army program that works with Fortune 500 companies that pledge to hire our military spouses. And now that we have expanded it to the spouses of service members in the Air Force, Navy, and Marines — it is having an even greater impact.” Murray also noted that many spouses utilize the Military Spouse Career Center, which has centralized many important resources online. “But for other programs, like the Transition Assistance Program that I helped expand, we still have to get the word out that military spouses can also take advantage of the training program,” she said. Murray
other federal programs like MyCAA (the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts Program) have been able to attract many military spouses, only to see the government cut back benefits because of limited resources. “So the truth is that our response to the hardships and the unique situation that you all find yourselves in has been uneven at best,” Murray said. “And there are still many things that can be done.” Murray said the military needs to do a better job of reaching out to corporate America on the benefits of hiring military spouses. “We talk a lot about, and I authored legislation on, how to help employers understand the skills your spouses gained through their military service,” she said. “But we also have to do more to help them understand what you bring to the table.” Murray said that the spouses of service members and veterans are used to the sacrifices and compromises that come with being a team player, they understand hard work and the day-today discipline it takes to succeed both at home and on
the job and are resilient and resourceful in ways that few other job candidates are. “These are qualities we have to get across to companies large and small,” she said. She said the government needs to provide opportunities and support for military children. “One area that I have been working on is in helping military families with children who have disabilities,” she said. “Believe it or not, today many of the behavioral therapies for children with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities are not covered by TRICARE. I’m fighting to change that.” Murray also talked about the importance of these events. “And to meet with experts on how you can translate your diverse and sometimes even disorganized work history into a resume that will get noticed,” she said. “To learn more about interview techniques and tips... And to come together the way only our nation’s military community can to ensure that everyone has someone to lean on.”
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Ladies gather to swap war stories and more By NATHAN WHALEN Staff reporter A group of a dozen or so women comprised of veterans, spouses of veterans and parents of veterans gather at an Oak Harbor assisted living facility to share memories of their lives in the military and provide each other some support.
Oak Harbor’s Summer Hill Assisted Living facility formed a women’s veteran group formed about three months ago and the new group meets monthly. Some of the women brings mementos and more that show how the military has shaped their lives.
Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Iris Brockway brought a spiral-bound book that chronicled the experiences her husband, Staff Sgt. Bruce Brockway, had as a tail gunner in the back of a B-24. He served two years in the South Pacific.
Iris Brockway shows a photo of her husband contained in a book she published outlining his experiences in World War II.
“I’m so thankful for what he did,” Brockway said. She had been married
to Bruce for 63 “wonderful” years. She brought the book because she wanted to share a couple of the stories about her husband’s experiences in the war. Fellow group member Olga Bel. Evans said she was one of about 1,500 flight nurses serving in the Army Air Corps, which was a forerunner to the current United States Air Force. She served at air bases throughout the continental United States. She spent her two years in the Air Corps flying in C-47s escorting injured soldiers home. Evans met her husband at a base in Rome, N.Y. Evans showed some of the medals and bars she earned during her two years in the service along with a large photo album. The group also was comprised of CONTINUED NEXT PAGE
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Several residents at Summer Hill Retirement and Assisted Living participate in a women’s veterans group. From Right are Olga Bel. Evans, Carolyn O’Dell, Oriole Wicks, Maxine Gowan, Loretta Rodarmel, Lucille Smith, Iris Brockway, and Lena Mahoney. Nathan Whalen/ Whidbey News-Times
Olga Bel. Evans shows a large photo album she shared with the women’s veterans group.
VETERANS FROM PREVIOUS PAGE several people who had children serving in the military as well. “I pray for him to come home safely,” Marie Rustad said of his son-in-law who is stationed in Korea. Another woman in the group brought a photograph of her son, who is also serving in the military. The women did more than share mementos and photo-
graphs of loved ones. The group continued a discussion from last month’s meeting about the recent decision to allow women to serve in combat. “I think it’s a good thing they don’t have to play any games with having women in combat and calling them women in combat,” said Judy Leu, who retired from the Army as a first sergeant. She helped facilitate the February veterans group. Group members also took
time to write letters to military personnel serving overseas. The group formed three months ago to give female veterans and spouses of veterans an outlet to share their experiences, provide support and camaraderie. Several group members said they enjoy learning so much about each other. Carolyn O’Dell, activities director at Summer Hill, said she hopes the group will open up to welcome women from
outside the assisted living community. O’Dell said she hopes the group will expand and become active enough to undertake such things and an “adopt-a-squadron” at the base. The group meets at 3:30 p.m. the first Monday of every month at Summer Hill Retirement and Assisted Living located at 165 S.W. Sixth Ave. in Oak Harbor. For more information, call O’Dell at 360-679-1400.
Finding New Hope
By Leslie Kelly
weekend camping trip to the Olympic Mountains sleeping in a private cabin. An evening sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows. Days spent playing softball and sitting in the sun.
This could be any summer weekend with the family. But for veterans and their families, it’s much more. It’s a chance to face the challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a safe environment.
“I ended up going and I’m so glad I did. It helped out a lot.”
It’s the Lions Club’s Project New Hope Northwest program. “It’s a weekend retreat for combat veterans and their families,” said Ed Kane, Lions public relations director. “It’s a time for them to face their issues under the guidance of workshop leaders and profes-
Now in its third year, Project New Hope Northwest is offered by the Lions Multiple District 19 for veterans in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. From Friday afternoon to Sunday noon, veterans and their families come together for recreation and fellowship. The aim is to help veterans deal with PTSD. An it does. Just ask veteran Kevin McMains of Eatonville. “I fought going (to the retreat),” he said. “My fiance wanted to go, but I was still stuck in the mode of not wanting to leave the house. I didn’t want to be around people.” But when his fiance, Jewel, said she was going with or without him, he got in the car.
McMains, 32, served in the Army for 11 years and was a sergeant stationed in Bagdad from October 2006 to November 2007 when he was hit by a 120mm rocket, injuring his spine. For a time, he was paralyzed and spent more than a year recovering at Ft. Hood, Texas, from his injuries through physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, occupational therapy, acupuncture, spinal injections and surgery. Once he
was able to, he and his fiance returned to his home state of Washington where they are raising their blended family of five children, ages 11, 9, 8, and two 6 year olds.
The weekend camp meant a lot to his children, too. “Especially my 11-year-old daughter,” he said. “She’s old enough that she knows what war is. She was able to talk to other kids about what she saw happening in our family and learn that she was not alone.”
When in Iraq, McMains’ work included overseeing the helipad where helicopters landed with injured soldiers. He was often the first person to speak to them to get their identification and alert their families back home that they had been injured.
His kids loved the zip lining and the Rubicon, 4-wheel vehicle that they rode in on an off-road course. “It pushed them to try new things and to not be afraid,” he said.
“Every day I was face-toface with the injured, trying to get them to talk to me,” he said. “It took a toll.”
He added that if children weren’t allowed to participate, he and his finance wouldn’t have been able to attend because they have no one to watch their children for an entire weekend. Their 6-yearold son has special needs and he was welcomed, too.
Besides his physical injuries that include a traumatic brain injury, McMains has been diagnosed with PTSD. His life since he was retired from the military in 2008 has been difficult. And, because his fiance was not part of his life until after his injuries, things have been even more stressed. “She wasn’t a part of the typical military life,” he said. “She didn’t understand a lot of what I was going through. She only saw me on the recovery side.” That was one reason why she pushed him to go to the Project New Hope weekend. There, she was able to talk with wives of veterans with PTSD, McMains said.
Leslie Kelly photo
Project New Hope offers veterans and their families the opportunity to talk with other families suffering the effects of PTSD. “She was able to learn ways to deal with my PTSD,” he said. “She bonded with other spouses and they helped her understand everything from the military acronyms to the warning signs that an episode (of PTSD) might be coming on.” The
McMains too. “I learned what to do when I felt myself getting out of control,” he said. “It was like getting tools for the tool box. It’s a way of learning what to do when you feel yourself getting out of control, so that you can fix yourself, or deal with the situation.”
Project New Hope is a service to veterans that the Lions are proud to be sponsoring. “I think we are critically limited in our knowledge and awareness of PTSD and how it is affecting our service members and their families,” said Jack Ford, a member of the Lions board and a retired naval officer and combat veteran. “And it’s something that’s not going away.” According to Ford, service members having difficulties CONTINUED NEXT PAGE
FROM PREVIOUS PAGE transitioning emotionally from war zones to being with their families and involved in their communities can sign up for a weekend retreat at no cost. This summer there will be three sessions, July 19-21, Aug. 23-25, and Sept. 13-15. Families are housed in lakeside rooms and can attend several counseling sessions. There are opportunities to bond with other families and there are recreational activities such as a zip line, horseback riding and crafts. Workshops are offered with professional counselors who will meet with veterans. The sessions are designed to bring out comments and feelings about their transition to ordinary life and address how to cope with the issues that come out. If intense feelings are drawn out, there are opportunities for veterans to meet individually with counselors in a private setting, Kane
said. “The intent is to focus on resolving problems that interfere with the veteran’s return to normal family life and to the community,” Kane said. “No one is claiming that this is a cure for PTSD, but this is a way to reach out and engage helpful coping responses and strategies.” Veterans such McMains who have participated in past sessions of Project New Hope have found they are regaining some control of their emotional responses to PTSD, Kane said. Some have returned for another weekend and others have come back to help out with Project New Hope. All of the sessions are run by volunteers and there are no paid positions. Each weekend costs in the range of $4,500 to $5,500 for up to 10 families. The retreats are paid for through donations,
Resources U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Web: www.va.gov Veterans Crisis Line: (Confidential) 1-800-273-8255, press 1 Veterans Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273TALK Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs Phone: 1-800-562-2308 Web: www.dva.wa.gov National Web: www.va.gov VA Puget Sound Health Care System 1660 South Columbian Way Seattle, WA 98108 Phone: (206) 762-1010 or 1-800-3298387
including recent ones from the Nisqually Tribe and the Madigan Foundation and from individual Lions Clubs in the Multiple District 19. Veterans wanting to register to attend a retreat can do so at www.lionsprojectnewhopenw.org. Donations can also be made through the website and volunteers can register to help by checking out the website. Ford said formal recognition of PTSD came after the Vietnam War and is a lifealtering condition. Recently, PTSD has been tied to a rising number of military suicides. He said the Lions Club is dedicated to helping veterans who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, physical or emotional. “Project New Hope is here to stay,” said Ford. McMains couldn’t be happier about that. “I was reluctant to go,” he said. “But I would tell others who are thinking about going to let your guard down and take the chance that it will help you. Don’t fight with the wife, it works. I went in apprehensive and I came out with a smile on my face.”
Island County Veterans Resource Center 1791 NE 1st Avenue Oak Harbor, WA 98277 Phone: (360) 678-7978 Island County Veterans Services Coordinator 402 N. Main Street, Coupeville, WA 98239 Phone: (360) 678-7805 Veterans Resource Center, Freeland Phone: (360) 331-8081 Web: www.vetsresourcecenter.org VRC Veterans Support Group Tuesdays, 6 p.m. at American Legion Post 141, Bayview
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Navy firefighter rescue man Firefighters from Navy Region Northwest Fire & Emergency Services Battalion 3 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island rescued a local man after he slipped off a cliff on Sunday, Feb. 10. The 19-year-old man fell about 80 feet down a 180-foot cliff at a residence off West Beach Road in Oak Harbor around 2 p.m. A call for help went out to North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, which needed mutual aid in the technical rescue. The North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, exercised the departments mutual aid agreement and requested support from Navy Region Northwest Fire & Emergency Services for assistance. Firefighter Todd Bassett went over the side with a safety line and lowering system, placing the fallen man, who was uninjured, in a rescue harness. Once the individual was attached to Bassett, the lowering system was switched over to a haul system and both individuals were safely lifted to the top of the cliff.
Photo courtesy of NRNW Fire & Emergency Services
Firefighter Todd Bassett descends down a West Beach cliff to rescue a young man who had fallen earlier this month.
OF THE SPEAR
Darlene Iskra helped pave the way for women in the military By WES MORROW Commander Darlene Iskra retired from the Navy in 2000 after 21 years of service. As one of the first female officers to serve at sea, Iskra’s career was marked by a number of firsts, but that was never her motivating fac-
tor. In 1979, Iskra was working at a swimming pool after graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management. She joined the Navy because it was one of the few jobs that
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offered benefits as well as equal pay for women. “There weren’t a whole lot of jobs like that around for women,” Iskra said. Someone she worked with at the pool said she should try to be a Navy diver because she was such a good swimmer. Iskra admitted she had always wanted to learn to dive, but didn’t even know at the time that there were Navy divers. Iskra went to officer candidate school, where she volunteered for the diving program, and was accepted. The law had only changed in 1978 allowing women to serve on some non-combat ships. “At the time I had no
idea, at all, that women officers had not ever done this before,” Iskra said. “I was within the first small group of women officers who had gone to this dive school.” Iskra’s class at the diving school was one of the first to be integrated, with both men and women in the same program. There was one other woman with Iskra in her class. In Officer Candidate School they received the same training as the men, she said, but there was one difference: The women were required to wear skirts for their class alpha uniforms. “When you’re marching around in the middle of winCONTINUED PAGE 11
An early photo of Darlene Iskra when she was serving in the Navy. She was the Navy’s first woman to command a ship.
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In 1993, two years after returning from the Middle East, Iskra moved off the Opportune and the ship was decommissioned.
“Everything I had done in the past was geared towards becoming a commanding officer. When I got selected for command, to me, it was just a normal progression.”
Iskra stayed in the Navy for seven more years, but her heart was no longer in it. When she received her fitness report from her superior, she was ranked lowest among her four other peers, despite passing all inspections and being the only of the five to deploy to a war zone.
Darlene Iskra, retired Navy Commander
Iskra FROM PAGE 12 ter, it got a little chilly,” Iskra said. “If you want uniformity then you should make the women wear slacks, too.” When Iskra graduated and went to her duty station aboard the USS Hector, uniforms continued to be a problem. Since the Navy had only recently begun allowing women to serve on ships, there were no female at-sea uniforms — women had to buy men’s uniforms, which fit awkwardly, as they weren’t designed for women’s bodies. Women had been serving in the Navy since 1948, but never before on ships. The USS Hector was a repair ship based in San Francisco Bay. Iskra served as the diving officer aboard the ship. After spending two years aboard the Hector, however, Iskra’s advancement was impeded by a problem the Navy had not yet addressed. While it had opened up noncombat ships to women, the Navy had only a handful of ships designated as such.
certainly wasn’t what I had joined the Navy to do,” she said. She was able to return to the sea in the mid 1980s when the Navy built a new class of salvage and repair vessels. Iskra joined the crew of the USS Grasp as the operations officer. While on the Grasp, Iskra was selected for executive officer and made lieutenant commander. Shortly thereafter, she was selected for the position she would unwittingly be remembered for. Iskra was named commander of the USS Opportune, a 200 foot rescue and salvage ship “Everything I had done in the past was geared towards becoming a commanding officer,” Iskra said. “When I got selected for command, to me, it was just a normal progression.” She was the first woman in the history of the U.S. Navy to command a ship, an achievement that places her among the most important naval firsts for women.
“There were all of these senior officers who had no place to go,” Iskra said. “There was just no upward mobility.”
But, Iskra said, it was never her intention to break such ground. She was only going through the progression of her own career.
Iskra wanted to be at sea, but she had to transfer back on-shore, where she taught nuclear safety and security at the nuclear weapons training group.
“My goal was to be in command, but it wasn’t to be the first woman in command,” she said.
“It was interesting, but it
Iskra commanded the Opportune from 1990 to 1993. Three weeks after she
A recent photograph of Darlene Iskra, who retired from the Navy in 2000 after 21 years. took command, Operation Desert Storm began, and the Opportune deployed to the Middle East. The deployment was a nerve-wracking time, Iskra said. The Opportune usually operated independently, not as part of a battle-group. “We were out there all by ourselves,” Iskra said. They had only two 50 calibre machine guns and two anti aircraft guns aboard the ship. Even then, Iskra said, “We didn’t have any air search radar, so the only time we could shoot at anything was if they were directly above us.”
a non-combat ship outside a battle-group, it didn’t have the classified publications that told the weapons capability of the enemy; however, there were reports during Desert Storm that the enemy possessed chemical weapons. Unfortunately for Iskra and her crew, the ship wasn’t even equipped with enough gas masks for everyone. Despite their lack of defense, the Opportune made it through Desert Storm and back home unharmed.
Iksra said the biggest stumbling block for women in the Navy is not the system itself, but the individual leaders within the system. “The leaders don’t believe fully in integration,” she said. “They need to take this seriously, and treat everyone with respect. They talk the talk, but they need to walk the walk.”
Iskra said when she asked her superior about the confusing report, he said, “Well, you had opportunities that the men haven’t had and therefore I don’t think it’s going to hurt you.”
Of course, Iskra said, this isn’t a problem with all the Navy’s leadership, noting that officers such as Adm. Ronald Zlatoper and Adm. Michael Mullen have helped push the issue forward.
After that, Iskra said, things sort of went down hill.
Currently, women are going through the same issues with submarines Iskra went through with ships. Iskra said she wishes things would move forward more quickly, but agrees with Zlatoper when he said, “It’s an evolution, not a revolution.”
“It became almost unbearable,” she said. “The crew and my peers were very supportive,” but her superiors seemed to be leaving her out on her own. There was a lack of support, she felt. Courtesy photo
women’s strategies for success.”
After leaving the Navy, Iskra went back to school. She got her master’s degree in sociology from the University of Maryland. She worked as an aid to Washington State Sen. Maria Cantwell, where she was an integral part in bringing about a bill that put an end to the practice of forcing U.S. military women in Saudi Arabia to wear traditional abaya and walk behind men. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007. Her dissertation was titled, “Breaking through the brass ceiling: Elite military
Iskra spoke highly of leaders like Zlatoper and Mullen for their foresightedness. Iskra spoke repeatedly about how she didn’t guide her career to be the first at anything, but just like Zlatoper and Mullen she led the way for the changes that needed to take place. Though she may not have been thinking of herself when she spoke about them, her own words give testament to her contribution: “It takes leadership like that to push these sorts of things. It doesn’t happen without a person leading the way.”
Since the Opportune was
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Women AT ARMS
By JESSIE STENSLAND Staff reporter
Megan McClung would have been pleased that women are being allowed to officially hold combat roles in the military, her parents say. Not that the current prohibition stopped Megan McClung, or many women like her. Major McClung was the first female United States Marine Corps officer to be killed in combat during the Iraq War. A total of 154 women have been killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Megan’s parents, Michael and Re McClung, live on Central Whidbey and keep her memory alive. They described their daughter as a feisty, athletic redhead who accomplished an amazing amount in her 34 years. Photo submitted
Major McClung was the first female United States Marine Corps officer to be killed in combat during the Iraq War.
The parents of Megan McClung, a Marine killed in Iraq, say she would have been pleased with the new policy allowing women in combat.
The McClungs took a strong interest when the Pentagon officials announced in January that they were lifting the ban on women serving in combat, potentially opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions. “She would have loved this,” Re said. “She would be very excited about it.” Yet the McClungs stressed that Megan did not support differential standards for women; she went to the Naval Academy, but felt the different standards for women were not necessary. Tough physical standards may disqualify some women — and men — but they wouldn’t have stopped Megan, her parents said. She was a star gymnast in high school. She was a triathlete in the Marines and competed in seven Ironman competitions and multiple marathons around the world. “Women should be allowed to do any job for which they are qualified,” Re said. CONTINUED PAGE 13
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House of Prayer Faith Tabernacle of Praise Monday Prayer Meeting - 6:00 P.M. Tuesday Night Bible Study- 6:30 P.M. Friday High Praise Service- 6:30 P.M. Sunday Celebration/Children’s Ministry – 9:30 A.M. Sunday Morning Worship Service – 11:00 A.M. Church Telephone Number (360)679-1003 Bishop Charles And Pastor Effie Boyles (360)929-3127
620 A/B Erin Park Drive Oak Harbor, WA 98277 (NEXT TO U-HAUL BLDG.) Word Of Everlasting Life & Faith Church
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490 NW Crosby Ave., Oak Harbor 675-5008 Sunday Services 9:00, 10:30 & 11:45 am Living Word Kids: 3 mos–5th grade all services Middle School Youth: Sundays 4:00 PM High School Youth: Sundays 6:00 PM Weekly Adult Groups Russ Schlecht ~ Senior Pastor
Concordia Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Worship Service ......................Sunday 10:00am Adult Bible Study & Sunday School...11:15am Nursery Available
Pastor Noel Koss 360-675-2548
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Megan received a Bronze star and a Purple Heart while in the service. Megan was in the final month on a year-old deployment when she was killed.
FROM PAGE 12 Megan broke through gender barriers her entire life. Her parents say she did it not to prove a point, but to achieve the things she wanted in life and to serve her country the best she could. â€œShe would tell me there is no glass ceiling,â€? Re said. â€œShe said itâ€™s just a room where you put yourself.â€? As a star gymnast in high school, Megan successfully petitioned the school board to be allowed into an all-male weight-lifting class, the only class that was offered.
On Dec. 6, 2006, while escorting â€œNewsweekâ€? journalists into downtown Ramadi, she was killed, along with Capt. Travis Patriquin and Specialist Vincent Pomante, when her vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device. â€œShe always wanted to be at the tip of the spear,â€? her father said. â€œShe said at one point that she wanted to make history. And she did, but not the way she expected.â€?
She was the first female cadet at Admiral Farragut Academy and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1995.
Even though they lost a daughter to the war, the McClungs support the decision to allow women in combat positions. They said they are realistic about the challenges and believe it will be a long, hard transition.
Megan eventually left active duty and went into the reserves. She took a job as a civilian contractor in Iraq. But she wasnâ€™t satisfied and volunteered to go back into active duty â€”Â specifically to Iraq.
Mike was an infantry officer in Vietnam. He said he knows firsthand what â€œan ugly, messy lifeâ€? it is in a foxhole. He said being on the frontline is grueling both physically and psychologically.
Mike explained that Megan originally wanted to go into the infantry, but was barred by the militaryâ€™s policy on women in combat. So she did the next best thing, which was to become a public affairs officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
While he believes women are up to the job, he said there will be a gradual cultural shift. Men and women can learn to live and work together in such stressful situations.
Above, Major Megan McClung is pictured with Sheikh Sittar in Ramadi. At right, Michael McClung, Meganâ€™s father, speaks in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Education Center at The Wall, which took place at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. in November.
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Like a marriage, it takes compassion, understanding and time, he said. â€œItâ€™s an evolution,â€? Re agreed.
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FOR SALE OR TRADE; Heated Swimming Pool. My 8â€™x14â€™ â€œEndlessâ€? sw i m m i n g p o o l i s i n great condition!!!! Use OAK HARBOR indoor or outdoor. Get ROUTES AVAILABLE ready for summer now! We d n e s d ay s b e fo r e Purchased brand new, 6PM and Saturday becost is over $25,000. fore 8AM. Call today Will sell for $6,500 or Whidbey News Times trade for Carpentry LaBuilding Materials 360-675-6611 Home Services bor & materials work. & Supplies House/Cleaning Service Please call Rob 3605 / 4 X 4 I R O N W O O D 720-2564. Oak Harbor, NEED EXTRA (Ipe). New! 188 Lineal Whidbey Island. MONEY? feet. $1.50 per lineal HAPPY SOLD IT? FOUND IT? foot. 360-321-3929. HOUSE MOTOR ROUTE Let us know by calling CARRIER NEEDED KEEPERS 1-800-388-2527 so we For the South Whidbey Cemetery Plots can cancel your ad. Record. 2 routes Inside & Out! available in the Free2 CEMETERY PLOTS Sliding Scale Fee land/Greenbank area. side by side for sale. Delivering Tuesday and Maple Leaf Cemetery in Friday nights. No collectO a k H a r b o r. L o c a t e d ing. Applicants must be along the road, a short ove r 1 8 w i t h r e l i a bl e Home Services distance South of the t ra n s p o r t a t i o n . G r e a t Kitchen and Bath c a n n o n s, grave p l o t s second job! #10 and #11. Nicely Call Circulation, maintained grounds and 360-675-6611 fr iendly, helpful staff. $900 each. Call 425Employment 745-2419.
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GOLDENDOODLE Puppies For Sale. Ready for their new homes March 7th. 7 Puppies left. 2 males, 5 females. Males, $700. Females, $800. Shots, wormed and dew claws removed. Approx weight when grown around 55 lbs. If interestB I C H O N F R I S E p u p - ed, email: debbie_1819 pies. AKC Registered. @hotmail.com or call Ta k i n g d e p o s i t s . Fo r Debbie at 360-540-2545. companion only! Will be vet checked and have Advertising doesnâ€™t first shots and be dewormed. Call for infor- have to break the mation: 360-874-7771, bank. The ClassiďŹ eds 360-471-8621 or go to has great deals on w e b s i t e t o s e e o u r everything you need. adorable puppies! www.bichonfrise GREAT DANE puppies4sale.com www.bichonfrisepuppies4sale.com
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or mail to: HR/GARWNT Sound Publishing, Inc. 19351 8th Ave. NE, Suite 106 Poulsbo, WA 98370
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1 9 7 1 JAG UA R X K E 2 + 2 . V- 1 2 , 5 s p e e d transmission. A real head turner!! Totally restored to concourse condition! Silver with Black i n t e r i o r. A M / F M / C D Stereo. Many upgrades! $58,500. 360-378-9486 San Juan Isl. Photos available jimwendyfrancis@ rockisland.com email@example.com
2006 SUZUKI Boulevard with less than 1600 miles. Almost brand n e GENERAL w , sCONTRACTOR uper clean, parked engine Livingin andgarage, serving r a n locally a t forl e30ayears st once a w e e kt/FX$POTUSVDUJPO . Asking $5000. t3FNPEFMJOH You canâ€™t pass on a deal l i k e t"EEJUJPOT this! Spring is 360-678-6040 around the corner. Will -JD$$4P"5;8-13 throw in some free gear. (360)720-9264 Whidbey Island
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A K C G R E AT D A N E Pups Health guarantee! Males / Females. Dreyrsdanes is Oregon stateâ€™s largest breeder of Great Danes and licensed since 2002. Super sweet, intelligent, lovable, gentle giants. Now offering Full-Euroâ€™s, Half-Euroâ€™s & Standard Great Danes. $500 & up (every color but Fawn). Also available, Standard Po o d l e s . C a l l To d a y 503-556-4190. www.dreyersdanes.com
2001 TOYOTA SIENNA Minivan 130,000 miles. Well maintained! Good condition! Nice family car; some minor scratche s a n d i n t e r i o r we a r. New tires last June. $5,600. Langley, Whidbey Isl. 360-321-5715.
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Anacortes Airport Hangar rental and outside tie down rental available. Call Josh 360-299-1828 firstname.lastname@example.org
Add a photo to your AKC POODLE Puppies. ad online and in print Brown Standard. Born for just one low price on 10/17/2012. Ready to Flea Market go on January 18th. First nw-ads.com s h o t s / w o r m e d . Ve r y 800-388-2527 SLEEPING BAGS, $1. beautiful, intelligent lovWhether youâ€™re 360-240-8817 buying or selling, ing. Parents have had the ClassiďŹ eds pre-breeding & genetic Free Items Spatz of Washington LLC testing, also good hips, has it all. From Recycler elbows and eyes. Home automobiles and raised with loving care. employment to real Males and females. estate and household $1200/each. Call RoberGENERAL CONTRACTOR goods, youâ€™ll ďŹ nd ta: 360-443-2447 or 360- SOLD IT? FOUND IT? New Construction - Remodeling - Additions everything you need Let us know by calling 865-6102. 24 hours a day at www.topperspoodles.net 1-800-388-2527 so we www.nw-ads.com. email@example.com Lic#CC01SPATZWL953PR can cancel your ad.
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CANE CORSO ITALIAN Mastiff Puppies. Loyal family protection! Raised in home with children and other pets! Distinctive color options; Blues, Reverse Blue Br indle and Formintino. Grand champion bloodlines (GCh). AKC and ICCF Registered. Tails and dew claws docked. Vacines up to date. Ear c r o p o p t i o n . S h ow o r Breeding puppy $2,000 each. Pet compainion puppy $1,500. Photos by text available. Call Jeani 509-985-8252. Yakima.
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C L A S S I C C A D I L L AC 1991 silver Brougham with leather interior, all power and sunroof. Good tires, original rims and only 66,680 miles. O r i g i n a l ow n e r m a i n tained. Spacious cruiser! They donâ€™t make them like this anymore! Includes records. Wonderful condition! $3,600 obo. San Juan Island Interior and exterior photos available via email. 360-378-3186.
REPORTER The Whidbey Newspapers is seeking an energetic, detailed-oriented reporter to write quality s t o r i e s a n d fe a t u r e s. Newspaper and layout experience using Adobe InDesign preferred. Applicants must be able to work in a team-oriented, deadline-driven environment, possess excellent w r i t i n g s k i l l s, h ave a knowledge of community n ew s a n d b e a bl e t o write about multiple topi c s. M u s t r e l o c a t e t o W h i d b ey I s l a n d , WA . This is a full-time position that includes excellent benefits: medical, dental, life insurance, 401k, paid vacation, sick and holidays. EOE Please send resume with cover letter, 3 or more non-retur nable clips in PDF or Text format and references to
Coming home By Dr. Fred McCarthy
BAYWOOD New Homes in THE BAYWOOD COLLECTION. Make your new home a Landed Gentry home, in this beautiful neighborhood. These welldesigned single and two-story homes range in size from 1300 to 2388 square feet, and feature spacious bonus rooms, 3-car garage options, gourmet kitchens, and access to a community park and numerous green belts. Homes are fully fenced & landscaped. Now Starting at $259,900!!!
CASTLE PINES New Homes in THE CASTLE PINES COLLECTION. Castle Pines is a neighborhood designed for all ages in Fairway Point, featuring single and twostory homes with spacious 1663 to 2779 square foot interiors, spacious master suites and gourmet kitchens. This collection is adjacent to Whidbey Golf and Country Club, with premium golf course sites available. Golf course frontage starting at $328,800.
Comfort is a feeling veterans associate with coming home. Carl and Rita Comfort are both adventurous veterans who have travelled the world in various assignments and in their post-military work experience. Carl grew up here on Whidbey Island. He is a hard working and multi-talented Renaissance kind of guy with a quick wit and an inviting smile that immediately puts you at ease. Rita is a gentle person who grew up in a Navy family that was stationed in multiple locations and you have the impression that along the way she developed a strong work ethic and learned to be resourceful and self-reliant. They met in the U.S. Army where they served as specialized enlisted personnel in Army Intelligence and worked together in Turkey. When you are visiting with Carl and Rita over a hot cup of coffee, the first thing that strikes you is their overwhelming sense of hospitality. As you enter the long inviting drive that leads past the rows of symmetrical vines and curves up to their home and winery on a knoll, you relax in response to the breathtaking surroundings. The featured wines of their winery are four varietals that they produce from the grapes grown on their property: Madeline Angevine, High Tide White, Siegerrebe and Sweet Donna Comforts of Whidbey, A Puget Sound Winery, is indeed a fitting title for this little piece of heaven. An expansive eastern facing view of Puget Sound towards Mukilteo includes Hat Island and captivates the visitor’s interest. A bench and arbor artistically set in a lush grassy area invite the visitor to reflect with a glass of their white wine in hand. Carl leads us over to a fence beyond the bench and points down below to a neatly plowed field below adjacent to a few neighboring waterfront homes. “That piece of ground is also part of our farm and vineyard and is probably the most fertile ground on the property” says Carl. “We have thought about it becoming a community garden for our neighbors.” As we walk to the north a few steps a rolling green hill and dale area appears reminiscent of Ireland or the countryside scenes in the PBS Series “All Creatures Great and Small.” “I’ve thought of an open air amphitheater-like setting for summer concerts over
there,” muses Carl, “with a stage area extending out over the crest of the hill.” You have a sense that it will happen someday in the not too distant future because of the many other Dr. Fred McCarthy improvements to this unique 22acre property that must have started as a vision and is now an inviting reality due to plain hard work on both Carl and Rita’s part. A couple of weeks ago, Carl and Rita surprised us at the Veterans Resource Center with a generous gift of $1,000 from their veteran-owned business to help our local veterans. But the story behind the gift is even more surprising and interesting. Carl and Rita are people who do their homework, just as they have done in growing their grapes and creating their winery. They had looked at a number of nonprofit organizations for a line of wines that they have named the Samaritan Series, at the suggestion of a friend. Their intent was to donate some the profits from this wine to worthwhile causes in their local community. They chose the causes based on criteria of integrity, service, purpose, and use of funds. We were selected along with Good Cheer Food Bank and Thrift Stores and Ryan’s House for homeless youth. If you are looking for a weekend drive destination for experiencing the unparalleled beauty of South Whidbey and want to include a memorable stop along the way, put this destination in your GPS and why not buy a bottle or two of Samaritan Wine to help out these worthwhile causes including the Veterans Resource Center. Rita, herself, may be pouring the wine for your wine tasting. Comforts of Whidbey, A Puget Sound Winery, is located at 4361 Witter Road in Langley. Fred McCarthy is volunteer executive director for the Veterans Resource Center. For more information go to www.vetsresourcecenter.org.
Navy transports Orcas woman
New Homes in THE OAKMONT COLLECTION. Oakmont is an age-qualified (those 55 and better) enclave within the Fairway Point planned community. Home models are single story, ranging from 1328 to 2779 square feet and offer contemporary finishes such as granite countertops and natural wood trim. Starting at $259,900.
NEW LUXURY HOMES YOU CAN AFFORD! Showing Tuesday– Saturday 10-5 and by appointment. Contact Michelle Lehr for more information: Michelle@LandedGentry.com
www.landedgentryhomes.com • 360-661-3689
2642 SW Fairway Point Drive Oak Harbor, Wa. 98277
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s Search and Rescue responded to an emergency call from the San Juan Dispatch Center at Orcas Island to evacuate a 65-year-old woman who suffered head and neck injuries after a fall on Thursday, Feb. 14. Airlift Northwest, a civilian medical transport service that provides services to Puget Bay area
was already engaged in the medical airlift of another Orcas Island resident and unable to airlift the 65-year-old victim. The San Juan Dispatch Center contacted NAS Whidbey Island’s Operations Duty Office for assistance. Upon notification, the airfield’s Operations Department coordinated with the Armed Forces Rescue Coordination
Center and dispatched to Orcas one of its SAR helicopters, which transported the injured woman to St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham. “The weather was a challenge for the mission, but the crew worked together and we were able to safely pick the patient up from Eastsound Airport and transfer her to St. Joseph’s hospital,” said Champlin.