The Office of Naval Intelligence celebrated Women’s History Month on Thursday, March 29.
Serving as distinguished guest in the event is Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy combatant ship. She is the first female graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy who was selected for admiral.
Rear Adm. Howard challenged both the women and men of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) to fulfill their potential. She said: “Once you have attained knowledge you cannot go back to ignorance.”
Rear Adm Howard’s career in the Navy included several sea and shore assignments, where she was recognized as an outstanding leader. Among her assignments were taking command of USS Rushmore (LSD 47)in 1999; Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON)7; Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5; multinational counter-piracy Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, which directed the Navy’s rescue of merchant ship Maersk Alabama from Somali pirates in 2009; and Task Force (TF) 51.
Howard shared further: “We understand that we’re all born with different attributes but we’re all emancipated humans… Freedom is our right.”
Capt. Robert Rupp, ONI commander, shared: “Our Navy is strengthened by the diversity of those of us who serve in it… Our nation is more secure because of the service of talented and energetic leaders such as Adm. Howard.”
The history of women serving in the Navy began in during the Civil War, and today, 17 percent of the total force of the United States Navy consists of women, with more than 54,000 active duty and 10,000 women reservists serving in the Navy.