Female Four-Star Admiral First For NavyBy: Kelly Weidman - July 2, 2014
The Navy named Michelle Janine Howard as its first female four-star admiral on Tuesday at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery.
“[The] willingness to step up and contribute to a noble cause in your life is a sign of true selflessness,” said Howard when she addressed the crowd at her promotion ceremony. “Our sailors and Marines are this legacy. They are volunteers. And with every mission, they demonstrate our core values, values our founders would have understood — courage, honor, commitment.”
Howard has spent 32 years in the Navy, most recently in the role of vice admiral. Her promotion on Tuesday to vice chief of naval operations will put her second in command only to the chief of naval operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
Howard is not only the Navy’s first female four-star admiral but also the first black woman to command a naval ship. She has spoken out on the many roadblocks females face in the military, specifically as a woman in command and as a black woman.
“My perspective is that it’s the opportunities that exist for [women] that is the biggest change [from when I joined],” said Howard. “Now I think about it all these years later, the combat exclusion law was repealed and women can serve on all classes of ships, all types of aircraft. And then the last couple of years, opening up the submarines to women — it’s significant.”
While there have of course been naysayers who point to her minority status as an explanation for her incredible career success, Howard’s peers beg to differ.
“Do I think she’s a token female, a token African-American, or anything like that? I would say absolutely and emphatically not,” said retired Rear Adm. Sonny Masso. “[With] her performance and critical jobs across the spectrum … she has brought an extraordinary amount of experience that is equal to any of her peers.”
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