Michelle J. Howard

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Michelle J. Howard
Admiral Michelle J. Howard VCNO.jpg
Howard in June 2014
Birth name Michelle Janine Howard
Born (1960-04-30) April 30, 1960 (age 59)
March Air Force Base
Riverside County, California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1982–present
Rank US Navy O10 infobox.svg Admiral
Commands held Vice Chief of Naval Operations
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5)
USS Rushmore
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 (2)
Legion of Merit (3)
Meritorious Service Medal
Navy Commendation Medal (4)
Navy Achievement Medal
Spouse(s) Wayne Cowles[1]
Website www.navy.mil

Michelle Janine Howard (born April 30, 1960) is a United States Navy admiral who currently serves as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations. In May 2016 it was announced that she had been nominated to serve as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe; Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; and Commander, Allied Joint Forces Command Naples.[2]

Howard has achieved many historical firsts throughout her naval career. She was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship,[3] the USS Rushmore,[4][5] and the first to achieve three star rank. 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 to become a four-star admiral.[7] 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.[8]

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 and the USS Lexington. 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 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 in July 1992. In January 1996, she became the Executive Officer of USS Tortuga 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 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 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 2 and Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer in April 2009. Boxer was the flagship for CTF 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. She played a key role in the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, whose kidnapping by Somali pirates became a major motion picture film.[9]

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.[10]

Dates of ranks

Rank Date
US Navy O10 infobox.svg Admiral July 1, 2014
US Navy O9 infobox.svg Vice admiral August 24, 2012
US Navy O8 infobox.svg Rear admiral August 1, 2010
US Navy O7 infobox.svg Rear admiral (lower half) September 1, 2007[6]

Awards and decorations

Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Surface Warfare Officer Insignia.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Award star (gold).pngAward star (gold).png
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg Award star (gold).pngAward star (gold).pngAward star (gold).png Navy and Marine Corps Achievement ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png
Silver block letter O
Bronze star
Bronze star
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg
Silver star
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg
Joint Chiefs of Staff Badge
Surface Warfare Officer Pin
Navy Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal w/ 1 bronze oak leaf cluster Legion of Merit w/ 2 gold award stars
Meritorious Service Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 3 award stars Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 2 oak leaf clusters Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 3 bronze service stars
Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with "O" device National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal Humanitarian Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 1 silver service star
NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

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,[11] and the 2011 USO Military Woman of the Year.[12]

On February 1, 2013, Howard was honored with the "Chairman's Award" at the 44th NAACP Image Awards.[12] 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.[13]

See also


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

  1. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/777086/flag-officer-announcements
  3. 3.0 3.1 "US Navy Biography – Michelle Howard". US Navy. Retrieved December 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Klausner, Alexandra (December 14, 2013). "President Obama nominates the first ever female 4-star Navy admiral". Telegraph. Retrieved December 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Flag Officer Announcements". Defense.gov. May 4, 2006. Retrieved December 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "US Navy promotes first woman to 4-star admiral in 238 year history". RT. July 2, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Devan Coffaro (April 18, 2016). "First African American woman to command Navy ship in Mobile". Fox News wtvm. Retrieved April 20, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "US Navy promotes first woman to four-star admiral". Washington DC News.Net. Retrieved 2 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "2009 Honorees". Retrieved December 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Chairman's Award". NAACP. Retrieved December 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Martinez, Luis; Dukakis, Alexandra; Thornton, Tom; Carlson, Chris; Bob; McHenry; Curley, David (October 11, 2013). "Saving Captain Phillips: Meet one of the real-life heroes behind the new movie". Power Players. ABC News. Retrieved February 16, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

External links