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Rear Admiral Terence McKnight shakes hands with Rear Admiral Michelle Howard. a Black female,  after her swearing in as Commander of Counter-Piracy Taskforce CTF 151, ESG 2. The swearing in took place in the Gulf of Aden on April 5, 2009. The ship that rescued the pirated Maersk-Alabama Captain was Rear Admiral Michelle Howard's ship.

Rear Admiral Howard is the first African American Woman to command a US Navy ship. She is also the first Admiral selected from the United States Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first woman graduate of the Naval Academy selected for Admiral.

On July 1, 2014, Michelle J. Howard was promoted to the rank of four-star admiral. She was also appointed the 38th Vice-Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), making her the second highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy.  With that promotion she became the first  woman in U.S. history to become a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy.

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General Lloyd J. Austin III, was approved by the Senate on June 30, 2010 to return to Iraq as a 4-Star General and as the top U.S. Commander in Iraq. General Austin is no stranger to "firsts" and holds the distinction of being the frist Black officer to lead a Corps in combat. From December 2006 to August 2009, he served as Commander of Fort Bragg, N.C. and the 18th Airborne Corps, a tenure that included his 15-month stint in Iraq as the No. 2 U.S. Commander under Gen. David H. Petraeus. General Austin is a West Point graduate and a native of Thomasville, Ga.


On February 27, 2007 President George W. Bush named Rear Admiral Stephen R. Rochon as Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher. The New Orleans native is in charge of the domestic staff at the White House, and makes sure that everything runs like clockwork. He is only the eighth person, and the first African American to hold the position. He manages the day-to-day operations of the White House, with its 132 rooms, $13-million plus budget and 90-plus staff. Admiral Rochon has a B.S. in Business Administration from Xavier University, and an M.S. in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University. He has earned the Coast Guard Distinguished Medal and three Legion of Merit medals. He is married and has four children. President Obama chose to retain Admiral Rochon in his present position.


Hazel Johnson was the first African American woman to become a general in the U.S. Army. She was appointed the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps in 1979. Johnson held a doctorate in education administration from Catholic University (1978) and had honorary degrees from Morgan State University, Villanova University, and the University of Maryland.  

Johnson first became interested in nursing while growing up on a farm in Westchester, Pennsylvania.  Her career began when we she received her nursing degree from the Harlem Hospital in New York City in 1950.  She then attended Villanova University where she received her bachelor’s and soon afterwards joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1955.  

Johnson served in Japan at a U.S. Army Evacuation Hospital.  She served at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1960 where she was a staff and operating room nurse.  Between 1963 and 1967, she was an operating room instructor and supervisor while on a tour of three different hospitals.  Johnson reached the rank of major in 1967.  

From 1969 to 1973, she helped develop new sterilizing methods for the Army’s Field Hospital Systems as a staff member of the Army Medical Research and Development Command.  In 1974, Johnson was promoted to Colonel and appointed the director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing, an extension of the University of Maryland’s nursing school.  

In 1978, Johnson was sent to South Korea where she was the chief of the department of nursing at the largest U.S. Army hospital in that country.  In May 1979, she returned to Washington D.C. where she was appointed General.  A military ceremony was held in her honor at the Pentagon, where  U.S. Army Surgeon General Julius Richmond pinned on her the brigadier general star.  Johnson was also sworn in as the sixteenth Chief of the Army Nurse Corps.  

Hazel Johnson retired from the U.S. Army in 1984.  In her post-Army career she has served as an advisor to a number of surgeons general.  In 1997 Johnson was appointed adjunct professor of nursing at Georgetown University.  She has also served in a similar capacity at the University of Maryland. 

General Hazel Johnson passed away on August 5, 2011 in Washington, D.C.


On May 23, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Charles Frank "Charlie" Bolden, Jr. as NASA Administrator. Bolden will take office after confirmation by the United States Senate. He will be the first African American to head the agency on a permanent basis.

"Charlie" Bolden, Jr., was born on August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated from C.A. Johnson High School, where his father, the late Charles Frank Bolden was the school's football coach. He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps major general and a former NASA astronaut. A 1968 graduate of the United States Naval Academy (USNA), he became a Marine Aviator and test pilot. After his service with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, he became Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the USNA. Bolden is the virtual host of the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction at Kennedy Space Center. Bolden also serves on the board of directors for the Military Child Education Coalition.


 African-American physicist, space scientist, and mathematician Katherine G. Johnson was born AUgust 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Trained as a mathematician and physicist in West Virginia, she has worked on challenging problems of interplanetary trajectories, space navigation, and the orbits of spacecraft. Johnson has worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with the tracking teams of manned and unmanned orbital missions. She is also an aerospace technologist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

The spacecraft Johnson worked on include the Earth Resources Satellite, which has helped locate underground minerals and other earth resources. She also analyzed data gathered by tracking stations around the world during the lunar orbital missions, the Apollo moon missions. Later, she studied new navigation procedures to determine more practical ways to track manned and unmanned space missions. For her pioneering work in the field of navigation problems, she was the recipient of the Group Achievement Award presented to NASA's Lunar Spacecraft and Operations Team.

Johnson also is the recipient of the Group Achievement Award for NASA's Lunar Spacecraft and Operations. Johnson was given an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the State University of New York in Farmingdale in 1998, and was named West Virginia State College Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 1999.

 In 2006, Johnson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Capitol College of Laurel, Maryland. Johnson lives with her husband Lt. Colonel James A. Johnson in Hampton, Virginia and has three daughters Constance, Joylette and Kathy. Katherine Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 6, 2012.

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