Naval officer achieves another first

Monday - 8/27/2012, 7:26am EDT

A black female naval officer has shattered a piece of the military's glass ceiling. The Navy has promoted Michelle Janine Howard to the rank of three-star vice admiral, as she stepped into her new role as deputy commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces headquartered in Norfolk, Va.

She becomes the first African-American woman to achieve that rank.

Vice Adm. Michelle Janine Howard's husband, Wayne Cowles and her sister, Lisa Teitleman, replace shoulder boards during a promotion ceremony at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads Aug. 24. Howard is the first African-American woman to receive a third star in flag rank within the Department of Defense. She assumes the duties as deputy commander U.S. Fleet Forces and commander Task Force Two Zero. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Spec. 1st Class Rafael Martie)

This is the latest in a string of firsts for Howard, who was the first African-American woman to command a warship, the first female Naval Academy alum to reach the rank of rear admiral and the first African-American woman to be in charge of an Expeditionary Strike Group at sea.

She comes off of a stint leading anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Howard decided to join the Navy when she was 12. At that time, women were not allowed at military academies.

Luckily for her and the Navy, that law changed by the time Howard was ready for college. She launched her career at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.