Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley, an alumnus of the University of Texas at Arlington, last month became the first Black four-star general in the history of the U.S. Marines.
Langley, who earned a BBA degree in Systems Analysis at the university in 1985, earned Senate confirmation after the Biden administration nominated him to command all U.S. military forces in Africa as head of U.S. Africa Command. Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. David Berger, promoted Langley, during a ceremony at Marine Corps Barracks Washington.
“43 years we go from our first African American general to now our first – I think leading to many more – four-star African American generals,” said Berger, paying homage to Lt. Gen. Frank E. Peterson.
Langley was joined by friends and family at the ceremony, including his father Willie C. Langley, who is an Air Force veteran. During the ceremony, Gen. Langley repeatedly talked about his father as his greatest mentor.
“My daddy told me to aim high, so I aimed as high as I could and found the few and the proud,” said Gen. Langley.
Langley was born in Shreveport, La., and grew up on a variety of military bases as a child before his family settled in Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1985. Langley has served in the Marine Corps for 37 years and sees his promotion as a sign to others that Marine Corps service rewards those who work hard to achieve their goals.
“The milestone and what it means to the Corps is quite essential,” he says. “Not because of the mark in history, but what it will affect going forward, especially for those younger across society that want to aspire and look at the Marine Corps as an opportunity.”
One of his UTA colleagues says Langley is the ideal choice to be the first Black four-star general in Marine Corps history.
“It makes perfect sense,” says his track teammate Robert Howard, a recipient of the UTA Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2000 and president of Don Davis Auto Group. “He was committed to being as good as he could possibly be. The fact that he has achieved what he has achieved is not a surprise.”
Since November 2021, he has served as commanding general of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, where he has overseen all Marine forces on the Atlantic coast. He also has served in Afghanistan, Somalia and Japan; led U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa; and held top jobs at the Pentagon.