Admiral Michelle Howard, then vice chief of Naval Operations (right) Rear Admiral Annie Andrews, commander, Navy Recruiting Command (left), and retired Rear Admiral Lillian Fishburne stand on stage during a Navy Recruiting Command’s change of command ceremony in Tennessee.
This historic photo of the first three African-American female admirals in the Navy was taken Sept. 4. 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Bigley).
Together they enhance a greater appreciation of U.S. Navy heritage and provide a positive influence toward pride and professionalism in the naval service.
Lillian Fishburne is the first African American woman to become a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.
She is one of only 61 African Americans who has achieved the honor of being a flag officer in the United States Navy. She was officially promoted rear admiral on February 1, 1998. Rear Admiral Fishburne retired from the Navy in February 2001.
As a Navy Human Resources officer, Rear Adm. Annie Andrews was assigned in areas of manpower, personnel, training, and education. Andrews assumed command of Navy Recruiting Command Aug. 29, 2013. Prior, she served as commanding officer of the Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes. During her tour, she led the training efforts of over 100,000 Sailors for duty in the Fleet and was instrumental in the commissioning of the Navy’s only immersive simulator trainer, the USS Trayer also was known as Battle Stations 21.
On November 1, 2015, Andrews began her federal career as the Federal Aviation Administration, after a 32-year career in the Navy. She provides executive leadership for HR programs and policies, operations, employee and labor relations, corporate learning and development, employee safety, and workers compensation.
Admiral Michelle Howard is the first four-star woman in Navy history. She has achieved many firsts throughout her naval career.
She was the first black woman to command a U.S. Navy ship and the first to achieve two- and three-star rank.
In 2006 she was selected for the rank of Rear Admiral (lower half), making her the first admiral selected from the Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for flag rank.
On July 1, 2014, Howard became the first woman to become a four-star admiral. As the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations, which she began that same day, she was the first African American and the first woman to hold that post.
Howard also became the first female four-star admiral to command operational forces when she assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group 5 in 2004, 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 commanded Task Force 151, Multi-national Counter-piracy effort, and Task Force 51, Expeditionary Forces. Her shore assignments include senior military assistant to the secretary of the Navy and Chief of Staff to the director of Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff, deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
Adm. Michelle Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. She graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998 with a master’s in military arts and sciences. Howard’s initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley and USS Lexington. While serving aboard 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.
Adm. Michelle Howard is set to retire in January 2018.