The Navy’s first female nominated to the rank of Admiral received her fourth star in a ceremony at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial in Arlington, Va. on Tuesday morning.
Adm. Michelle Howard, a carrer surface warfare officer and former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5), will relieve Adm. Mark E. Ferguson as Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) later today.
“Michelle Howard’s promotion to the rank of admiral is the result of a brilliant naval career, one I fully expect to continue when she assumes her new role as vice chief of naval operations, but also it is an historic first, an event to be celebrated as she becomes the first female to achieve this position,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said during the ceremony. “Her accomplishment is a direct example of a Navy that now, more than ever, reflects the nation it serves — a nation where success is not born of race, gender or religion, but of skill and ability.”
“Michelle’s many trailblazing accomplishments in her 32 years of naval service are evidence of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity,” CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert said during the ceremony. “I look forward to many great things to come from the Navy’s newest four-star admiral.”
Howard is a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served primarily in amphibious ships during her sea tours.
In 1999, Howard became the first African American woman to command a Navy ship — USS Rushmore (LSD-47). She also led Amphibious Squadron Seven, Expeditionary Strike Group Two and the international counter-piracy group Task Force 151.
Ferguson, in turn, has been nominated to command the U.S. Navy’s forces in Europe, Africa and lead Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy.
In 2008 U.S. Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody became the first female officer in U.S. military history to earn a fourth star.