(NY Times) -- Adm. Michelle J. Howard was looking for new insignia for her white Navy dress uniform when she ran into an unusual problem.
“I said, ‘I need to order a four-star women’s shoulder board,’ and there’s this silence,” Admiral Howard recalled. “Then the lady goes, ‘Um, I’m not seeing any in the system.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I thought that might be the case.’ ”
Last week Admiral Howard, the vice chief of naval operations, became the first female four-star in the 239-year history of the Navy. She is also the highest-ranking African-American woman in a male-dominated military that did not even allow the promotion of women to general or admiral until 1967.
“I didn’t know it was possible to grow up to be anything more than a one-star,” Admiral Howard, 54, said in a recent interview, referring to the rank of rear admiral. She said today’s sailors “have never known a life when there hasn’t been a woman admiral, women three-stars, women in command of ships, women in command of destroyers.”