The ceremony was held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery, near the Pentagon.
She will serve as the vice chief of naval operations, which makes her the No. 2 admiral in the Navy behind Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations.
Howard has served 32 years in the Navy. She is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982.
Among her many distinctions, Howard in 1999 became the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship.