Admiral Michelle Howard is the first African-American Navy commander and first four star woman in Navy history and first African-American and first woman to hold the post as Vice Chief of Naval Operations confirmed July 1, 2014 

Admiral Michelle J. Howard Bio

In April 2009, Admiral Michelle Howard had been in her new job as commander of an anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden for just three days when Captain Richard Phillips was kidnapped by Somali pirates after they hijacked his cargo ship, the MV Maersk Alabama. “The pirates were using the fuel in the life raft to steer toward shore,” Admiral Howard recalls, “and it was obvious that if they got to shore [in Somalia] with Captain Phillips, we were probably not going to get him back.”  

The goal was to get the pirates to stop moving, without stressing them into desperate action. The kidnapping and subsequent dramatic rescue became the plot for the 2013 movie, Captain Phillips starring [Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi best actor in a supporting role]  but the backstory, and Admiral Howard’s role, was far more complex.  For the full story click on the link below.

Admiral Michelle J. Howard​
​Admiral Michelle Howard commanded The USS Boxer (LHD-4) a 40,000 ton Wasp class amphibious assault ship 
The USS Boxer was the flagship for CTF 151, a multinational task force established to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean three days before the kidnapping of Captain Phillips. 
Admiral Howard, assumed command of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 and Combined Task (CTF) 151 three days into her new assignment devised the plan to rescue Captain Phillips April 2009.
​Admiral Michelle Howard attends her ceremonial 
event in Wash., D.C. after confirmed July 1, 2014
​Admiral Michelle Howard is given “the secret handshake” from President Barack Obama
There are many examples of traditions that build camaraderie in the military, but few are as well-respected as the practice of carrying a challenge coin—a small medallion or token that signifies a person is a member of an organization. Even though challenge coins have broken into the civilian population, they’re still a bit of a mystery for those outside the armed forces.

It’s nearly impossible to definitively know why and where the tradition of challenge coins began. One thing is certain: Coins and military service go back a lot farther than our modern age.

One of the earliest known examples of an enlisted soldier being monetarily rewarded for valor took place in Ancient Rome. If a soldier performed well in battle that day, he would receive his typical day’s pay, and a separate coin as a bonus. Some accounts say that the coin was specially minted with a mark of the legion from which it came. 

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