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Rear Adm. Zeita Merchant, the U.S. Coast Guard's Newest Admiral

In a historic milestone for the U. S. Coast Guard, Captain Zeita Merchant was promoted to Rear Admiral (lower half), marking a groundbreaking achievement as the first African American woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the 233 years of the Coast Guard’s existence.
24 rdml zeita merchant profile
April 27, 2024
24 rdml zeita merchant and adm linda fagan
Adm. Linda Fagan congratulates Rear Adm. Zeita Merchant. Photo by Daniel L. Henry, U.S. Coast Guard New York Public Affairs

In a historic milestone for the U. S. Coast Guard, Captain Zeita Merchant was promoted to Rear Admiral (lower half), marking a groundbreaking achievement as the first African American woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the 233 years of the Coast Guard’s existence.

The promotion ceremony, held on April 22 at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City, home to the musical Hamilton, was a testament to the respect and admiration Rear Admiral Merchant prompts from subordinates, peers, and supervisors alike. Senior Coast Guard leaders, including Admiral Linda Fagan, commandant of the Coast Guard, Rear Admiral John Mauger, commander of the Coast Guard’s 1st District, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Heath Jones participated in the event.  

Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi shared remarks, and retired MCPOCG Vince Patton delivered a blessing and benediction. The presence of other local, state, and federal officials, members of the NYPD and NYFD, family, friends, and shipmates, further underscored the significance of this moment in Coast Guard history.

24 rdml zeita merchant and family
RDML Zeita Merchant and her family. Photo by Daniel L. Henry, U.S. Coast Guard New York Public Affairs

“Rear Admiral Merchant's service is a testament to her unwavering dedication, exceptional leadership, and steadfast commitment to excellence throughout her Coast Guard career,” said Susan Ludwig, Coast Guard Foundation president. “With over 26 years of service, she personifies the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty, setting a high standard for all to follow.”

"Reflecting on my own journey within the Coast Guard, I see it as a road less traveled, filled with unique challenges and unparalleled opportunities,” said Merchant. "Each decision to lead, each commitment to serve, has been a step on the path less traveled. These choices, often difficult, have shaped not only my career, but also my vision of leadership; one that fosters resiliency, promotes inclusivity, and values integrity above all.”

As she closed her remarks, Rear Admiral Merchant paid homage to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton by directly quoting a line from the musical: "There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait!"

In her most recent role, Rear Admiral Merchant served as the Captain of the Port of New York. Now, she is set to assume command of the U.S. Coast Guard Personnel Service Center in Washington, D.C.

Watch the full ceremony in the link below.

 

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