US Navy promotes first female to rank of four-star admiral

In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, Adm. Michelle Howard lends a hand to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus as he and Wayne Cowles, Howard's husband, put four-star shoulder boards on Howard's service white uniform during her promotion ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial on July 1, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Howard is the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the history of the Navy and will assume the duties and responsibilities as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations from Adm. Mark Ferguson. (Handout/Peter D. Lawlor, U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, Adm. Michelle Howard lends a hand to Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus as he and Wayne Cowles, Howard's husband, put four-star shoulder boards on Howard's service white uniform during her promotion ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial on July 1, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Howard is the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the history of the Navy and will assume the duties and responsibilities as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations from Adm. Mark Ferguson. (Handout/Peter D. Lawlor, U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
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Updated: 7/01 6:28 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States 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 Gen. 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 U.S. Naval Academy in 1982.

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

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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