Admiral Michelle J. Howard (Retired)

    Women and Adversity:

    Admiral Michelle J. Howard (Retired)

          First woman four-star admiral in the Navy

Since it is Veterans Day, I think it’s appropriate to honor a woman who is a veteran. I never knew that a woman, Michelle Janine Howard, had reached the rank of four-star admiral in the Navy. She attended the Naval Academy, graduating in 1982, and retired from the Navy in 2017. Her list of achievements during her naval career are stellar. Among them are:

  • 1990: was named chief engineer aboard the USS Mount Hood.
  • 1998: earned a master’s degree in military arts and sciences.
  • 1999: became the first African American woman to command a Navy ship, the USS Rushmore.
  • 2009: took command of Expeditionary Strike Group Two, which guarded the Persian Gulf, being the first African American woman to lead a U.S. Navy battle group.
  • 2014: became first woman promoted to rank of four-star admiral. The same day became the second highest-ranking officer in the Navy with the title of 38th vice-chief of naval operations.
  • 2016: became commander of naval forces in Europe and Africa.
  • 2017: retired from the Navy.
  • 2018-2020: taught cybersecurity and international policy at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

Admiral Howard was born April 30, 1960, in Riverside, CA but the family relocated to Colorado. Her father was a master sergeant in the Air Force, and by the time she was 12, Howard began considering a military career. She didn’t realize at the time that women were not accepted in military academies, but that changed when President Ford signed the Military Procurement Bill, allowing women to enter the academies in 1976.

In 1989 she married Wayne Cowles, a Marine, not retired. In 2019 she became a member of the IBM board of directors, and in 2020 was on one of President-elect Joseph Biden’s transition teams.

More information:
Q&A with Michelle Howard | C-SPAN.orga

Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to, and to learn more.

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