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Michelle Howard Becomes Navy's First Female Four-Star Admiral

James Wright | 7/1/2014, 5:53 p.m. | Updated on 7/3/2014, 12:57 p.m.
Michelle Howard (Courtesy photo)

The Navy made history Tuesday when it promoted Michelle Howard, an African-American, to be its first female four-star admiral.

Howard received the promotion in a ceremony presided over by U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Howard, 54, a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, is the first black woman to command a ship, the USS Rushmore.

In her acceptance speech, she said that "willingness to step up and contribute to a noble cause in your life is a sign of true selflessness."

"Our sailors and Marines are this legacy," Howard said. "They are volunteers, and with every mission, they demonstrated our core values, values our founders would have understood — courage, honor, commitment."

Howard, who received her master's degree in Military Arts and Sciences from the Army's Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is the first black woman to achieve three-star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces and is the first woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the Navy. She is also the first black and first female vice chief for Naval Operations.

NAACP board chair Roslyn Brock, who honored Howard last year with the organization's Chairman’s Award, lauded the promotion.

"As the first female four-star officer in the Navy's 236-year-history, Admiral Howard inspires us all," Brock said. "Her accomplishments over a 30-year career in the military are a testament to the power of strategic thinking, deep knowledge and hard work. … It is a distinct pleasure to again recognize Admiral Howard for her leadership and service to our nation."