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Michelle J. Howard

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Michelle J. Howard

Michelle J. Howard
Howard in June 2014
Birth name Michelle Janine Howard
Born (1960-04-30) April 30, 1960
March Air Force Base
Riverside County, California, U.S.
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1982–present
Rank Admiral
Unit Vice Chief of Naval Operations
Commands held Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5)
USS Rushmore (LSD-47)
Amphibious Squadron 7
Expeditionary Strike Group Two
Task Force Two Zero
Battles/wars Persian Gulf War
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards)
Legion of Merit (3)
Meritorious Service Medal
Navy Commendation Medal (4)
Navy Achievement Medal
Spouse(s) Wayne Cowles[1]
Website .mil.navywww

Michelle Janine Howard (born April 30, 1960) is a United States Navy admiral who currently serves as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Prior to that, she served as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5). Howard has achieved many historical firsts throughout her naval career. She was the first African-American woman to achieve three star rank and four star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as being the first woman and African-American woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the Navy.[2]

She was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship,[3] the USS Rushmore.[4][5]

In 2006, she was selected for the rank of rear admiral (lower half),[6] 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 became the first woman and the first African-American woman to become a four-star admiral. As Vice Chief of Naval Operations, which she began that same day, she is the first African-American and the first woman to hold that post.[7]

Early life and education

Howard was born to former U.S. Air Force master sergeant Nick Howard and his British wife Phillipa. She is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 and from the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998 with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences.


Howard meeting with U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS Fort McHenry in July 2009.
Howard addressing the crew of the USS Wasp in December 2009.
Howard gives a speech at the New York Mercantile Exchange in June 2010, during Fleet Week.

Howard’s initial sea tours were aboard the USS Hunley (AS-31) and the USS Lexington (AVT-16). While serving on board USS Lexington, she received the Secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership. She reported to USS Mount Hood (AE-29) as Chief Engineer in 1990 and served in the Persian Gulf War, during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She assumed duties as First Lieutenant on board the USS Flint (AE-32) in July 1992. In January 1996, she became the Executive Officer of USS Tortuga (LSD-46) and deployed to the Adriatic in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, a peacekeeping effort in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. Sixty days after returning from the Mediterranean deployment, Tortuga departed on a West African Training Cruise, where the ship’s sailors, with embarked U.S. Marines and U.S. Coast Guard detachment, operated with the naval services of seven African nations.

Howard took command of USS Rushmore (LSD-47) on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. Howard commanded Amphibious Squadron 7 from May 2004 to September 2005. Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, operations included tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the North Persian Gulf.

Howard's shore assignments include: Course Coordinator/Instructor for the Steam Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) course; Action Officer and Navy’s liaison to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Military Services (DACOWITS) in the Bureau of Personnel; Action Officer J-3, Global Operations, Readiness on the Joint Staff from 2001–2003; Executive Assistant to the Joint Staff Director of Operations from February 2003 to February 2004; and Deputy Director N3 on the OPNAV Staff from December 2005 to July 2006.

Howard was the Deputy Director, Expeditionary Warfare Division, OPNAV staff from July 2006 to December 2006, and senior military assistant to the secretary of the Navy January 2007-January 2009.She served as chief of staff to the director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff from August 2010 until July 2012.[3] From August 2012 to July 2013 VAdm Howard served as Deputy Commander U.S. Fleet Forces Command headquartered in Norfolk, Va.

Howard assumed command of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 and Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD-4) in April 2009. The USS Boxer was the flagship for CTF 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.

Howard was promoted to rear admiral (lower half), effective September 1, 2007 and to rear admiral, effective August 1, 2010. She was promoted to vice admiral on August 24, 2012.

On July 1, 2014, Howard was promoted to admiral. She became the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations the same day.[8]

Dates of ranks

Rank Date
 Admiral July 1, 2014
 Vice admiral August 24, 2012
 Rear admiral August 1, 2010
 Rear admiral (lower half) September 1, 2007[6]

Personal life

Howard is married to Wayne Cowles, a retired U.S. Marine.[1] She is the recipient of the 2008 Women of Color Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Career Achievement Award, 2009 Dominion Power Strong Men and Women Excellence in Leadership Award,[9] and the 2011 USO Military Woman of the Year.[10]

On February 1, 2013, Howard was honored with the "Chairman's Award" at the 44th NAACP Image Awards.[10] She is a 1987 recipient of the Secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins Award.

In popular culture

  • A female voice identified as "Admiral Howard" is included in the 2013 film, Captain Phillips. By radio, Admiral Howard coordinated the rescue of the ship’s commander, later depicted in the movie.[11]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Navy document "Vice Admiral Michelle Howard".

  1. ^ a b Lerman, David; Walcott, John (December 20, 2013). "Black Woman Named to a Top U.S. Navy Job Says Wimps Fail". Bloomberg Politics. Bloomberg, L.P. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ "US Navy promotes first woman to 4-star admiral in 238 year history". RT. July 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "US Navy Biography - Michelle Howard". US Navy. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ Klausner, Alexandra (December 14, 2013). "President Obama nominates the first ever female 4-star Navy admiral". Telegraph. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Navy Celebrates 2014 African American/Black History Month". US Navy. Retrieved July 1, 2014. Vice Adm. Michelle Howard is recognized for many first accomplishments, including the recognition as the first female United States Naval Academy graduate to be promoted to the rank of admiral, the first black female to command a combatant ship, and the first black female promoted to two-star and three-star admiral. She has also been confirmed by the Senate to serve as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the service's No. 2 uniformed officer. She will be the first black and first woman to hold the job and the first female four-star admiral. 
  6. ^ a b "Flag Officer Announcements". May 4, 2006. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Lamothe, Dan (July 1, 2014). "Adm. Michelle Howard becomes first four-star woman in Navy history". Washington, DC US: The Washington Post. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ "US Navy promotes first woman to four-star admiral". Washington DC News.Net. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "2009 Honorees". Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Chairman’s Award". NAACP. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  11. ^ Martinez, Luis; Dukakis, Alexandra; Thornton, Tom; Carlson, Chris; Bob; McHenry; Curley, David (October 11, 2013). : Meet one of the real-life heroes behind the new movie"Captain Phillips"Saving . Power Players. ABC News. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 

Further reading

  • "Michelle Howard". Contemporary Black Biography. The Gale Group, Inc. 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  • Salter, Stephanie (April 18, 2009). "In a generation, a sea change has come to the U.S. Navy". The Tribune-Star. Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. Retrieved May 1, 2009. 
  • "First female grad to make admiral reflects on career". Annapolis Capital. May 26, 2006. 
  • "Naval Academy Holds "30 Years of Women" Conference". Navy NewsStand. September 14, 2006. 
  • "PHIBRON 7 Assumes Responsibilities as MSO for CTF 58". Navy NewsStand. 2/9/2005. 
  • "Amphibious Squadron 7 Commander Meets With Coalition Partners to Discuss Humanitarian Relief Efforts". Navy NewsStand. 1/11/2005. 
  • "MAKING WAVES In The New Navy - African American naval officers". Ebony. September 1999. 
  • "Flag Officer Announcements". February 10, 2009. 
  • "Multi-National Task Force Focuses On Preventing Piracy". All Things Considered. NPR. April 13, 2009. 
  • "Task force commander has busy first week". Navy Times. April 22, 2009. 
  • Essence (December 16, 2009). "A Hero Among Us: Exclusive Interview with Admiral Michelle Howard". Essence. Essence Communications, Inc. Retrieved February 16, 2014. 

External links

  • Official website
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