Retired U.S. Air Force Chief Howie Franklin to speak at the SGTC Foundation Griffin B. Bell Convocation on Tuesday, April 11

Published 8:10 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023

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From Staff Reports

AMERICUS – Howie Franklin, U.S. Air Force retired, will be the guest speaker at the South Georgia Technical College Foundation Griffin B. Bell Convocation April 11 at 11 a.m. in the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center on the South Georgia Technical College Americus campus.  This is in honor of the college’s 75th anniversary.  The public is invited to attend.

Franklin retired after 29 years in the United States Air Force as a Chief Master Sergeant.  He spent 24 years at Andrews Air Force Base Special Missions Operations and 18 years on Air Force One.  He became the first flight attendant in history to serve five U.S. President’s aboard Air Force One.  Howie worked on the crew that served President Ford through the first term of President Clinton.

He is currently the airport director of Cape Fear Regional Jetport in southeastern North Carolina.  The airport authority board honored Howie’s service by adding Howie Franklin Field to the official airport name.

Franklin and Mark Grady wrote a book, “Yes Sir! Mr. President” sharing some of the over 300

stories of his memories of working around Presidents, First Ladies, Vice Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, VIP guests and U.S. press corps.

“South Georgia Technical College is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and we are honoring our aviation roots with our keynote speaker Howie Franklin,” said South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford.  “Aviation maintenance was one of the original programs offered in 1948.  Mr. Franklin served Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton aboard Air Force One. We are honored that he would come and speak to our students, faculty, staff and community members.”


President Ronald Reagan is shown shaking Howie Franklin’s hand.
Photo courtesy of SGTC

Howie Franklin has spoken across the United States.  The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Director of Communications and Programs wrote, “The entire audience sat riveted as Howie shared his stories – they were funny at times and poignant at times.  We laughed at times, we held our breath at times.  Howie did a great job opening a window, helping the audience learn about the person behind the presidency.  It was especially fitting to have him speak at the Presidential Library that bears the name of one of the Commanders-in-Chief he served so well, Ronald Wilson Reagan.”

The Griffin B. Bell convocation was made possible by a donation from the late U.S. Attorney General and Judge Griffin Bell in an effort to bring outstanding individuals with expertise in business, science, or technology to the SGTC campus to encourage and inspire young people.


Howie Franklin is shown above with Rosalyn Carter aboard Air Force One.
Photo courtesy of SGTC

Other speakers have included:  Eric Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh who soloed over the grounds of South Georgia Technical College; Charles Loudermilk, founder of Aaron’s Rents; Tom Young, retired Lockheed Martin and NASA executive; Dan Amos, AFLAC; Thomas A. Gales of Caterpillar, Inc.; Cliff Oxford, STI Knowledge; James Blanchard, Chief Executive Officer of Synovus; Virgil Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Williams Group International, Inc, a diversified multi-company a conglomerate with major subsidiaries in construction maintenance, civil and environmental engineering;  A. James Clark of Clark Enterprises, Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in the United States;  George and Jackie Bryce of Star Racing in Americus; William Eames from Ireland who trained over the grounds of South Georgia Technical College as a young member of the Royal Air Force during World War II; Bruce Goddard, a best-selling author from Reynolds, Georgia and 1979 SGTC Aviation Maintenance graduate Dan Linginfelter, Senior airworthiness Inspector for Gulfstream Aerospace and retired Atlanta Station Manager, International for Delta Airlines.