Alene Duerk


Editor’s Note: Rear Adm. Alene Duerk passed away in July 2018, at the age of 98. This conversation was recorded in 2014 and is one of the final conversations with a true American trailblazer.

Alene Duerk started out her life as a nurse, but during World War II, she decided to enlist in the military. She eventually rose through the ranks, becoming the first female Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy in history.

Now 94, she’s looking back over her groundbreaking career and explains how even though the aging process has slowed her body down some, she’s still as mentally and socially engaged as ever.

She also explains how a bill signed by President Johnson in the late 1960s allowed her to be promoted and reach the previously unreachable heights in the military. Find out the unexpected way she learned about her promotion and why she never thought she’d be the first.

Alene tells us what she’s learned about succeeding in life and offers advice, no matter what you’ve chosen as your career path.