Female four-star admiral: Adm. Michelle Janine Howard makes Navy history

The Navy's first female four-star admiral has served 32 years in the Navy since she graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1982. Admiral  Howard was also the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship.

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    Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus (l.) congratulates Adm. Michelle Howard after putting on her fourth star, during her promotion ceremony in Washington, July 1. Howard is the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the history of the Navy. Howard's husband Wayne Cowles is at right.
    Peter D. Lawlor/USNavy/AP
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The Navy has its first female four-star admiral.

She is Michelle Janine Howard, promoted on Tuesday to the service's highest rank. The ceremony was held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery, near the Pentagon.

She will serve as the vice chief of naval operations, which makes her the No. 2 admiral in the Navy behind Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations.

Howard has served 32 years in the Navy. She is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. She graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1982.

Among her many distinctions, Howard in 1999 became the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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