Story Number: NNS140701-20Release Date: 7/1/2014 3:12:00 PM
By By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Johnson, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Earlier in the morning, Howard became the first female promoted to four-star rank in the U.S. Navy.
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus acknowledged the historical significance.
"I hope and I believe that today is an example of a Navy that now reflects the highest ideals of the nation that we serve. A nation where success is not born by ethnicity or gender, but by skill and ability," said Mabus.
Throughout her career Howard has achieved many firsts. She was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy warship, the first female graduate of the Naval Academy to achieve the rank of rear admiral, and the first African-American woman to command an Expeditionary Strike Group at Sea.
Howard experienced yet another first when she called to order four-star shoulder boards for women and realized that they didn't exist. The set placed on her uniform by SECNAV and her husband, Wayne Cowles, was the first set in the history of the U.S. Navy.
"You have chosen a wonderful service and a wonderful career," Howard told Sailors. "Hang onto your dreams and go after them with passion."
Howard relieved as VCNO Adm. Mark E. Ferguson, who is slated to become the commander of Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Forces command in Naples, Italy.
"She will bear the burden of a role model and she is ready to bear that very well," said Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert.