Former Air Force One flight attendant shares memories of Barbara Bush

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — As former First Lady Barbara Bush reportedly enjoyed some bourbon the night before she died, Howie Franklin remembers her preferred beverage on Air Force One.

“At the end of the day, there would possibly be a bourbon cocktail,” Franklin said.

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He is the airport director at Cape Fear Regional Jetport. But years ago, he was the chief flight attendant during the Bush administration on Air Force One. He says Mrs. Bush always had an expectation of everyone to do their best. However, for the mother of six, a motherly side would always come out.

“It was warm and we felt like some of her family. I mean, the presence of the people and they respected her. When you’re around her, you stood up a little taller. You were expected to. It was a wonderful thing,” Franklin said.

Franklin says she was also a cheerleader for the family and the staff and would try to bring out the positive in any situation.



“She built confidence. She was somebody who had that leadership ability that built confidence in the people around her,” Franklin said.

But he also had his inside jokes with the former first lady.

“I carried treats in my pocket and she knew that and the dogs knew it too. She accused me on time of stealing her dogs because they’d follow me around the airplane. Well, I have the treats in my pocket and she knew that and she’d joke with me about it,” Franklin said.

Finally, he only has one thing left to say to her.

“Thank you for being who she is and who she was. I thought she set a good example. She was a great role model for a lot of people,” he said.

Franklin says he and the rest of the staff on Air Force One appreciated being around her, especially on the plane. Her funeral is set for Saturday at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.