Black Chicks That Rule: Vice Admiral Michelle Howard

Vice Admiral Michelle Howard first African American woman to reach rank of three-star officer |

chicks who rule Michelle HowardVice Adm. Howard graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998, with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences. She was instrumental in devising and executing the plan to rescue Richard Philips, Captain of the Maersk Alabam, after he was taken captive by Somali Pirates. President Obama issued an order for his immediate rescue, during which Vice Adm. Howard reported directly to him and the Secretary of the Navy. Essence Magazine did an interview with her where she talked about that experience.

In October of this year, Tom Hanks is set to portray Captain Philips in the movie Captain Philips from Columbia Pictures. The Military channel also aired a short documentary detailing the events of that rescue. It’s a remarkable story and it took a remarkable black chick to make it happen. Watch the video to hear from Howard first hand about her life, career and challenges.


Biographical Information

While serving on board the USS Lexington, she received the secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership. She reported to USS Mount Hood (AE 29) as chief engineer in 1990 and served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She assumed duties as first lieutenant on board the USS Flint (AE 32) in July 1992. In January 1996, she became the executive officer of USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and deployed to the Adriatic in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, a peacekeeping effort in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Sixty days after returning from the Mediterranean deployment, Tortuga departed on a West African training cruise, where the ship’s Sailors, with embarked Marines and U.S. Coast Guard detachment, operated with the naval services of seven African nations.

She took command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) on March 12, 1999, becoming the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. Howard was the commander of Amphibious Squadron Seven from May 2004 to September 2005. Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5, operations included tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the North Arabian Gulf. She commanded Expeditionary Strike Group Two from April 2009 to July 2010. In 2009, she deployed to CENTCOM theater, where she commanded Task Force 151, Multi-national Counter-piracy effort, and Task Force 51, Expeditionary Forces. In 2010, she was the Maritime Task Force commander for BALTOPS, under 6th Fleet.

Her shore assignments include: J-3, Global Operations, Readiness and executive assistant to the Joint Staff director of Operations; deputy director N3 on the OPNAV staff; deputy director, Expeditionary Warfare Division, OPNAV staff; senior military assistant to the secretary of the Navy; Chief of Staff to the director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff, and deputy commander, US Fleet Forces Command.

She currently serves as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans & Strategy (N3/N5)


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