Navy Finds New Vice-Chief, and It Turns Out the Best Man for the Job Is Actually a Woman

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The United States Navy has a new four-star admiral today. And she’s quite a woman. Michelle Howard is the first woman in the 238 years of U.S. Navy history to be raised to this rank. The ceremony took place at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 and was presided over by the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus.

Admiral Michelle Howard has achieved a great deal in her 32-year-long Navy career. In 1999 she became the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy, the USS Rushmore. Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations said of her at the ceremony: “Michelle’s many accomplishments in her 32 years of Naval service are evidence of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity. I look forward to many great things to come from the Navy’s newest four-star admiral.” Admiral Michelle Howard will assume her new role as vice chief of Naval Operations under Admiral Greenert.

Making History (In More Ways Than One)

There is more to add to her biography as well. She was involved in an incident that you may remember a few years back. The incident was made into the movie, Captain Phillips, which did quite well at the box-office with Tom Hanks playing the main role. Howard was in command of Task Force 151, which was responsible for counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa. When Somali pirates attacked the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama and took captive its Captain, Richard Phillips, in April of 2009, she and others devised the plan to get him back.

She dispatched the USS Bainbridge, a destroyer, to help in the effort. If you remember, Navy Seal snipers parachuted in at night and boarded the USS Bainbridge. They eventually took out the three pirates who had remained on the life boat holding Captain Phillips with three simultaneously fired, perfect shots. The fourth pirate was brought back to the U.S and put on trial for piracy. It was a perfectly executed operation.

We here at the Veterans Site want to congratulate our newest four-star admiral, Michelle Howard and wish her fair winds and calm seas as she starts a new chapter in her long and successful career. We are happy for you and for the Navy.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.