Navy pins first female four-star admiral

BY Talia Mindich  July 1, 2014 at 2:09 PM EDT
NORFOLK, Va. - Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard's husband, Mr. Wayne Cowles and her sister, Ms. Lisa Teitleman, replace shoulder boards during a promotion ceremony at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads on Aug. 24, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Rafael Martie

NORFOLK, Va. – Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard’s husband, Mr. Wayne Cowles and her sister, Ms. Lisa Teitleman, replace shoulder boards during a promotion ceremony at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads on Aug. 24, 2012. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Rafael Martie

Vice Adm. Michelle Howard is now the first female four-star admiral in the Navy’s 236-year history.

The promotion ceremony took place Tuesday morning at Arlington National Cemetery. Howard will assume duties as vice chief of naval operations, the service’s No. 2 officer.

Howard graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. In 1999, she became the first African-American female to command a ship—USS Rushmore (LSD 47)—for the Navy.

“She is…a great example of how much we as a nation and a Navy lose if we put artificial barriers in,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said during the ceremony. “If we don’t judge people based on their ability, based on their capability. I hope I have always been passionate about that, but I know the intensity has increased since I am the father of three daughters, and I refuse to believe that there are any ceilings for them, glass or otherwise.”