Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2024

Newest Rear Admiral Makes History


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Capt. Zeita Merchant, commander of the Port of ...

Capt. Zeita Merchant, commander of the Port of New York, made history when she attained the rank of rear admiral, becoming the highest-ranking African American woman in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 233-year history.

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Photo by Jason Paderon, courtesy US Coast Guard.

At the time of her promotion, Merchant who was based at USCG Sector One, in New York, was commander of one of the nation’s busiest port complexes, managing more than 1,000 personnel in 12 commands daily over an area spanning more than 6,000 square miles. She and her staff were tasked with keeping the waters of New York and New Jersey safe for both travellers and hundreds of billions of dollars in cargo. She assumed the new position in USCG Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in the Spring of 2024,

Calling the USCG a close-knit family, Merchant thanked her superior officers and praised the “climate for success” fostered in the USCG. Initially joining the Coast Guard with a three-year obligation, she quickly recognized the impact she could have on the nation’s homeland defense every day – and then asked “What do I have to do to stay in?” Today, she’s considered one of the USCG’s top emergency managers leading large-scale, multi-jurisdictional incident responses.

In most of her leadership roles in the USCG she’s either been the first minority or the first woman to hold the position – and most of the time she was both.

Congratulations to Rear Admiral Zeita Merchant! We hope you continue to shine a light for other young people.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2024 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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