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Michelle Howard becomes Navy's first female four-star admiral

CNN Staff | 7/2/2014, 9:02 a.m.
The U.S. Navy has promoted Vice Adm. Michelle Howard to admiral, making her the first female four-star officer in the ...
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus congratulates Adm. Michelle Howard after putting on her fourth star during her promotion ceremony at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. 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. (Peter D. Lawlor/U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Navy has promoted Vice Adm. Michelle Howard to admiral, making her the first female four-star officer in the Navy's 236-year-history, the White House said Tuesday.

Howard, who was the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship, will become vice chief of naval operations, according to her online Navy biography.

"Her historic career is taking a next step today," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Howard's promotion comes nearly six years after Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody became the U.S. military's first female four-star officer.

Howard, a 1982 graduate of the Naval Academy, made history when she commanded the amphibious dock landing ship Rushmore in 1999, Earnest said.

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