My Last Baggage Call Aboard AF1
A Journey of Sacrifice, Service, Family, and Friendship
My Last Baggage Call Aboard Air Force One: A Journey of Sacrifice, Service, Family, and Friendship by Glenn W. Powell
Former Aide to Three U.S. Presidents Pens Life Story of a Path Least Traveled
This exciting memoir chronicles the life and memories of SFC Glenn Powell, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army, and 10-year veteran of the White House where he served under Presidents George HW Bush, President William J. Clinton, and President George W. Bush.
SFC Powell was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. He says his real-life journey began in 1982 when he bypassed his high school graduation to join the U.S. Army. That journey would take him from Fort Dix, New Jersey, to Manheim, Germany where he met Ronda Holloway, a young, beautiful soldier and fellow Ohioan, who has been his wife and soulmate for 25 years.
Powell’s poignant and inspiring story includes both, his own memories, and memories from some 50 white house colleagues, family members and lifelong military buddies who enriched his life, and made an indelible impact on his journey. SFC Powell’s story is that of a restless young man who grew up in a working-class environment with ample opportunities to journey down the wrong path. Yet, thanks to his childhood village –the many role models whose lives exemplified the best in American values—made all the difference in his journey.
Except for that “village,” of his childhood, Glenn believes his story might have had a different ending. The hardworking citizens living purpose-filled lives, served as a buffer against the discontent and civil unrest plaguing the rest of world. The centerpiece of that village, Glenn says, was his parents who, while they never lived under one roof, both loved him unconditionally.
Margaret Powell was a young single working mother, and a constant reminder of the importance of working toward excellence at one’s chosen career. She would become Kroger Stores’ first African American manager. His father, a prominent entrepreneur in the Toledo area, would remain a constant in Glenn’s life until the end.
Glenn says these lessons sustained him throughout his journey – from the pampered child, to the responsible teen, to the ambitious young soldier, to the doting husband and father; and the loyal and “never say never” Sergeant and aide to the President of the United States of America.
“My Last Baggage Call Aboard AF1” chronicles a most amazing journey that magically transformed Glenn Powell’s life, and so richly impacted those who knew him.
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About Glenn W. Powell
Sergeant First Class Glenn W. Powell (Retired) is a native of Toledo, Ohio. He enlisted into the United States Army in 1982 and retired in 2002. During his military career, he served as a heavy vehicle driver, a squad leader, and non-commissioned officer.
In September 1991, SFC Powell joined the George HW Bush White House as a chauffeur, and in 1992, was promoted to transportation coordinator for the white house Press Corps, serving in the Clinton Administration.
In December 1995, he assumed the duties of transportation supervisor for Air Force One.
In January 2001, during his service under President George W. Bush, SFC Powell was transferred to the White House Military Office, Customer Support and Organizational Development where he served as deputy director.
SFC Powell retired with distinction from the Military in 2002. He received numerous awards and decorations throughout his service, including the Legion of Merit Metal, Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the United States Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He received U.S. Service Ribbons for both domestic and overseas service.
Glenn and Ronda Holloway Powell have been married for 25 years, and have three sons, Darius, Warren, and Glenn, II. They reside in Virginia.
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For more information or to contact Glenn Powell regarding availability for speaking opportunities, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Our Village on Fernwood Street
I was born June 8, 1962. My mother was 26, and I was the last of her and my father’s four children. Mother left her parent’s home the year I was born. She moved into her own home, just four blocks from my grandparents. Though she, my brother and two sisters, and I no longer lived with my grandparents, all of our holidays were celebrated at their house. Their home remained the central place for the Powell family as long as my grandparents lived. My mother’s siblings lived in Toledo, just blocks from my grandparents.
The Powell family was close-knit. I remember that my older brother Michael asked if he could stay with my grandparents, and my mom and grandmother agreed that he could. My grandmother raised Michael as if he was her own child, and Michael would refer to her as “mama.” He called our mother, “Margaret.”
One of my earliest childhood memories is Christmas holidays. My aunts, uncles and cousins came to my grandparent’s home to enjoy the festivities. As the youngest of four siblings, my parents saw to it that I always got exactly what I asked for during Christmas. My siblings would often complain that I was my mother’s favorite and she would go out of her way to make sure I was happy. I was my mother’s youngest child, so a lot of that was to be expected. Even now, 50-plus years later, I still am considered the “baby” of the family.
One of the things I will never live down is the fact that when my mother started her career with Kroger Stores, she hired a nanny to take care of me. She later said it was because she knew the job would demand a lot of her time, and she had to work to take care of us. Of course, my siblings saw this as another case of me receiving special treatment. How would I have known that I was probably the only black child in Toledo at the time whose mother had hired a nanny to take care of him? Her name was Ms. Sarah, and what I remember most is her cooking. She was an amazing cook. She remained a part of my life until I went to public school when I was six.
Through her actions, our mother communicated much of what she would not say. She must have realized there would be obstacles to what she wanted to attain in her career. She knew she would have to work twice as hard to achieve her goals. At the same time, she didn’t want to have to worry about my well being as she went out and worked each day. In time, her hard work paid off, and she became the first black cashier and the first black manager Kroger Stores ever hired. She remained with Kroger for over 40 years, before retiring.
Mother was a young teenager working in Derby soda shop when she met my father. I imagine theirs was a friendship that, in time, blossomed into love. My father was considerably older than my mother when they had their first child. My grandparents were livid, and tried everything in their power to keep their young daughter away from my father, even going to his business and threatening to kill him.
George Bowman was a well-respected businessman in the city of Toledo. He worked for Sears & Roebuck Company for most of his life, retiring in 1957. After retirement, he opened the Eureka Social Club, a popular members-only club in Toledo. Though my father didn’t live with us, I saw him nearly every day. He was a loving and attentive parent. My parent’s four children were born three years apart. Our births were unplanned, so the three-year age differences remain a mystery.
My mother was much like Grandmother Fannie Mae in that she was the center of her home. She was certainly a positive force in my life, the most important force, in fact. I can truthfully say that she taught me every good thing I learned in life…things that I was able to take with me throughout my life. Beyond being a wonderful mother, however, Margaret Powell had a lot of ambition and devoted a great deal of her time to her job at Kroger. She believed in excellence and wouldn’t stop until she excelled at everything she ever set her mind to accomplish. She expected the same of her children.
In her 40 years as a Kroger employee, she worked at just about every store in the city. Her first job with Kroger was at the Cherry Street store. After that, she worked at the stores on Hauley Street, Monroe and Detroit Street, Monroe and Central Street, and finally on Monroe and Secor Road. In the early 60’s, she became the first African American to work as a store Manager. She always gave credit to her supervisor Robert Meegan who recognized her potential and mentored her at a time when blacks were rarely if ever hired in management roles.
Margaret Powell spent every waking moment focused on excelling at work, and doing all she could to make life for her children better. In return, she expected a lot from us. While she expected a lot from each of us, I believe her highest expectation were for me. My siblings sometimes called me, the Powell family’s “Golden Child,”, and I guess I always felt that I needed to try to live up to what others expected of me.
I fought against the term when I was growing up, I now admit that I was a “mama’s boy.” I never wanted for anything that my mother wouldn’t find a way to get for me. However, one thing she never gave me was permission to play sports. She was afraid I would get hurt.
While my mother had been raised as a strict Christian, and attended Calvary Baptist Church each Sunday with her family, no one would call her an overly religious woman. Attending church was not something she made us do on a regular basis. She taught the Christian rules in our home, but it was up to us whether we would continue to attend church after we moved from grandma’s home. My grandfather was a longtime member of the Masons and my grandmother was an Eastern Star.
I would describe my mother as a pragmatist. She understood that her work was important to holding our family together. I may have been a mama’s boy, but Margaret Powell taught my siblings and me how to be independent and self-sufficient. We all learned to clean house, cook, do laundry, and sew. She knew that there was no way she could be a homemaker like my grandmother. My grandmother had my grandfather to serve as sole breadwinner.
My parents never married. While my father was always in in our lives, the fact that she was a single mother was a constant reminder to my mother that our well being was, for all practical purposes, her responsibility.
( Continued... )
© 2017 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Glenn W. Powell. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
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Glenn W. Powell is a featured speaker on The Christian Authors on Tour TV Show broadcasting on the WBGR Gospel Network. Hosted by Leroy Mckenzie Jr. and Lynn Pinder.
Black Pearls Magazine Conversation with Sergeant First Class (SFC) Glenn W. Powell
Sergeant First Class Glenn W. Powell (Retired), is a native of Toledo, Ohio. He enlisted into the United States Army in 1982, and retired in 2002. During his military career, he served as a heavy vehicle driver, a squad leader, and non-commissioned officer.
In September, 1991, SFC Powell joined the George HW Bush White House as a chauffeur, and in 1992, was promoted to transportation coordinator for the white house Press Corps, serving in the Clinton Administration.
In December 1995, he assumed the duties of transportation supervisor for Air Force One. In January, 2001, during his service under President George W. Bush, SFC Powell was transferred to the White House Military Office, Customer Support and Organizational Development where he served as deputy director.
SFC Powell retired with distinction from the Military in 2002. He received numerous awards and decorations throughout his service, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the United States Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He received U.S. Service Ribbons for both domestic and overseas service. Glenn and Ronda Holloway Powell have been married for 25 years, and have three sons, Darius, Warren, and Glenn, II. They reside in Virginia.
BPM: How does a man go from basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey to a prestigious career at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a Deputy Director in the White House Military Office?
ANSWER: The journey wasn’t easy but it all boiled down to hard work, dedication, and individuals seeing your potential for success.
BPM: Entering the military at an early age can be challenging for some young people. What was your experience like and looking back would you do this all over again?
ANSWER: At first that experience was very hard. It was my first time being away from home and being in an environment that I couldn’t control. It forced me to grow up quickly and provided the additional resources and discipline that I needed to become a man. Without question, I would do it all over again.
BPM: Tell us about your new book, MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: A Journey of Sacrifice, Service, Family, and Friendship.
ANSWER: The book is about my personal journey from being a teenage father in Toledo, OH. Making the hard decision to leave my son in order to provide for him. Serving my country that I hold in high regards. Finding love and building a family. Constantly leaving my family to fulfill my military obligations while serving the Office of the President, and establishing lifelong friendships.
BPM: What was it like to be in service to three American presidents?
ANSWER: It was one of the greatest honors that an individual in the military can aspire to have. It isn’t the norm for a military person to be able to serve three Presidents, due to the fact that we relocate after four years on that assignment.
BPM: Being aboard Air Force One had to be amazing! What is one of the most beautiful places you visited?
ANSWER: The first place was South Africa, where I was afforded the opportunity to go on safari, but more importantly to tour Robin Island during President Clinton’s visit, and have the pleasure of meeting Nelson Mandela. The other place was China, and being able to walk the Great Wall of China, and standing in Tiananmen Square.
BPM: What was your most interesting chapter to write in your book MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL?
ANSWER: For me, the most interesting chapter to write was Chapter 15, Second Chances. Writing this chapter allowed me to be vulnerable with how I felt during 911 and multiple health issues that I had faced.
BPM: Were there ever times you wished you could share your story with the world before writing the book?
ANSWER: Yes, there were, but because I’m such a private person and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my story.
BPM: What made you want to become a writer? How long have you been writing?
ANSWER: I have been writing my story my whole life. Keeping notes in my head internally. I just never knew that I was a writer. It wasn’t until my cancer diagnosis, that I decided it was time to put the thoughts and feelings to paper.
BPM: How has writing MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL impacted your life?
ANSWER: It has allowed me to be more open with regards to my personal life. It has allowed me to share the upbringing that has made me what I am today.
BPM: What advice or bit of wisdom would you share with the young man leaving home for the first time seeking adventure?
ANSWER: I would say, try not to be afraid but open for opportunities that came your way. Your destiny has been pre-determined, so follow your heart.
BPM: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
ANSWER: I would view writing as an outlet, as everyone has many views on spiritual practice and I don’t want to offend anyone with my views.
BPM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned from this project?
ANSWER: The one thing that was most surprising, was finding out my family history. Everyone isn’t always able to trace their family origins.
BPM: Share one specific point in your past that is resonating with your present situation or journey.
ANSWER: To always treat others the way that you want to be treated.
BPM: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
ANSWER: It is both energizing and exhausting. It energizes me by allowing my creative juices to flow. It is exhausting because you really don’t know just how much work goes into bringing a project to life.
BPM: What are the top three things that make you feel happy and fulfilled at this point in life?
ANSWER: God allowing me to still be on this life journey. The love and support of my family and friends. Peace of mind and spirit.
BPM: What makes you forget about the world around you?
ANSWER: I’m really never able to forget the world around me, although going on vacation allows me to recharge my batteries.
BPM: What strengths did you use to achieve two major goals in life?
ANSWER: The wisdom of selfless service from my parents, and the courage to work hard to achieve my goals from my military mentors.
BPM: What other projects are you working on at the present?
ANSWER: The next project that I’m working on is gathering more historical information about my family roots in Rison, AR.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work? Is the book available on Nook and Kindle?
ANSWER: My book is available on Amazon for both Nook and Kindle. My website is under development.
BPM: Are you on social media? We would like to stay in contact with you! Share all of your social media links.
ANSWER: Yes, visit my website to follow me for events at http://www.gwpowell.com
I’m on Facebook and messenger @Glenn W. Powell (Author), Twitter @glennwpowell1, and Instagram @glennwpowell
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