HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A woman who has secured a spot in history books has made a stop here in Houston. We caught up with the first female Four Star Admiral Michelle Howard. It was almost like peeling a page from a publication and witnessing a walking, breathing, amazing chunk of history face-to-face.
"I think, technically, I can call myself a trailblazer because I actually once got an award that said that,” smiles Admiral Howard.
This history making military powerhouse is the first and still the only female Four Star Admiral.
“And that's not a feat you accomplish just by hanging out. She has paid her dues,” points out Lt. Commander Trina Martin who is in the U.S. Navy and an FBI Intelligence Analyst.
In 1999 Admiral Howard became the first African American woman to command a ship in the navy.
"And then realized this multi-billion dollar asset but more importantly the lives, the sailors and marines, are your responsibility. That's a privilege to be able to lead people,” explains the Admiral.
This highly notable Navy Admiral spoke at Houston's FBI headquarters wrapping up Women's History Month.
"Women make a lot of contributions to this country. I wouldn't be here today without a strong mother and a strong grandmother,” says Perrye Turner Special Agent in Charge of the Houston FBI.
The Admiral not only left FBI Special Agent Nicole Sinegar with inspiration, she also gave her a gift.
"One of her personalized coins. It has her name on the back Admiral Michelle Howard. It also has 'Dont' Tread on Me',” explains Sinegar as she shows off the coin.
You may remember in 2009 when an American cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. Well, guess who was behind rescuing kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips?
“I had just taken over a piracy task force. Three days into the job Captain Phillips was kidnapped. It was my job to synchronize the forces and come up with the rescue plan,” Admiral Howard explains.
So how do you break so many barriers even while running into obstacles? The admiral's mom's advice?
"You had better embrace it or you had better get out of the Navy. First of all, I was mad because mom you're supposed to be supporting me but then I realized she's right. It is a commitment to the journey”.
Admiral Howard says such amazing accomplishments don’t come without adversity.
"I've kind of encountered some of those same struggles myself, probably not to the extent she has, but often times when I'm in uniform and representing the Navy, I look around and I'm the highest ranking person in the room and I'm a female and on top of that I'm a black female. Sometimes I'm in awe of that. So I can only imagine what Admiral Howard has had to endure in her career,” adds LT Commander Martin.
The Navy and FBI each are made up of 19% females.
So what if you work hard, succeed but still run into career struggles? Admiral Howard says she has found an effective way to deal with that.
"It's generally one knucklehead at a time,” smiles the Admiral.