July 16, 2015

Blue Skies Ahead

aaron-howell-smOn a sunny day in late summer 1993, nine year old Aaron Howell squinted as he looked skyward. Jets thundered overhead, streaking past the air show crowd at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in southeast Michigan. At that moment, his fascination with flight took off. At age 17, after flying a small plane for the first time, he was hooked for good.


“I wanted to learn how to fly an airplane, but the college I was attending (out-of-state) did not have an aviation program,” said Aaron. “Someone told me about the Aviation Flight Technology program at Delta College, so I returned home.”


To assist with his studies, Aaron applied for and received several scholarships from Saginaw Community Foundation between 2004 and 2006 totaling $5,000. Aaron credits the scholarships with making a difference in his life.


“Without the scholarships from Saginaw Community Foundation, I never would have been able to start flight training, and, without finishing college, I would not be doing what I am doing today.”

After receiving an Associate’s degree in science in 2007, Aaron went on to earn an Associate’s degree in applied science in aviation flight technology in 2009. During that time he also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business and commercial aviation from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

howell-scholarshipsFollowing his graduation, Aaron joined the U.S. Navy, receiving his commission in October, 2009. On August 12, 2011, he earned his wings as a pilot in the Navy.

Today, Aaron is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy stationed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He serves as a Naval Aviator, Aircraft Commander and Mission Commander on a E-6B Mercury aircraft with TACAMO (Take Charge And Move Out). Aaron commands crew of 14 and is responsible for $500 million worth of U.S. Government equipment.


“My job is to talk to anything that can launch a nuclear weapon,” said Aaron.


According to the U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command, the E-6B Mercury is a communications relay and strategic airborne command post aircraft that provides survivable, reliable and endurable airborne command, control and communications between the National Command Authority and U.S. strategic and non-strategic forces. It is the airborne portion of the TACAMO Communications System.


Typically, Aaron is deployed in-country for one month assignments and then returns to his stationed base for a month. He averages 200 days of deployment per year. Over the past two years, he visited 41 of 50 states.


“With my busy schedule, I am only able to come home once or twice every 13 or 14 months.”


Aaron, one of seven children, is the son of John III and Adna Howell. He graduated from Bridgeport Baptist Academy in 2002 as valedictorian. He also received the school’s Christian Leadership Award.


As for the future, Aaron says: “I’m staying in the Navy until they kick me out. Seriously, though, I really enjoy what I am doing. Scholarships from Saginaw Community Foundation have really made a difference in my life.”


We’d love to hear from our scholarship alumni 

Are you or do you know someone who received a scholarship from Saginaw Community Foundation? We would love to hear from you and learn what you have been up to since graduation. Contact LeeAnn Martuch, program officer, at (989) 755-0545 or email