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Rear Admiral Lillian Fishburne


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Rear Adm. Lillian Fishburne was born on March 25, 1949 in Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduating from Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania with a BA in Sociology, she followed in her father’s footsteps by enlisting in the U.S. Navy. She became an Ensign after graduating from the Women Officer School at Newport, Rhode Island in February 1973.

Her first assignment was at the Naval Air Test Facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey as a Personnel and Legal Officer from 1974 through 1977. She then served as the OIC of the Naval Telecommunications Center at Great Lakes, Illinois Naval. In 1980 she earned her Master of Arts in Management from Webster College and spent two years at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Admiral Fishburne was appointed to many positions during her career to include Assistant Head, Joint Allied Command and Control Matters Branch, Executive Officer at the Naval Communications Command in Yokosuka, Japan, and Special Projects Officer for the Navy’s Command, Control, and Communications Directorate. In 1998 President Bill Clinton promoted her to the rank of Rear Admiral, becoming the first African American woman to hold this position.

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As the only female of four, it was difficult for my father to understand why I was the only child to make the decision to join the military. Adm. Fishburne’s father was Navy and supported her decision to enlist. During a time when there had only been 18 African American Rear Admirals in the Navy, she defied all odds and made it to this rank.

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