The First Highest Ranking African American woman In Navy History
Admiral Michelle J. Howard was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, USS Rushmore, and the first to achieve two- and three-star rank. In 2006, she was selected for the rank of rear admiral (lower half), making her the first admiral selected from the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for flag rank. On July 1, 2014, Howard was appointed Vice Chief of Naval Operations the second highest ranking officer in the Navy.
Upon her swearing in Howard became the highest ranking woman in United States Armed Forces history, and the highest ranking African American and woman in Navy history. Howard also became the first female four-star admiral to command operational forces, when she assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Howard retired on 1 December 2017 after nearly 36 years of service in the United States Navy.