U.S. Navy names first four-star female admiral

By Michelle Kapusta,

The U.S. Navy made history on Tuesday by naming its first four-star female admiral.

Michelle Janine Howard became the highest-ranking female in the Navy’s history and the first ever to get four stars. The Associated Press reported that a ceremony took place at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Howard will serve as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, which makes her the number two officer in the Navy.

During the ceremony, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that Howard’s promotion is a “representation of how far we have come, and how far she has helped bring us.” He then called her the best officer for the job.

The 54-year-old has had quite a career and achieved many historical first in her 32 years of service.

She was the first African-American woman to achieve a three-star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the Navy. She was also the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship.

As TIME noted, Howard is perhaps best known for leading the task force that saved marine Captain Richard Phillips when he was captured by Somali pirates in 2009. Phillips’ story and rescue was depicted in the 2013 film Captain Phillips.

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