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NASA Administrator Names Retired Marine General to Lead Johnson Space Center

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2002

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today named Jefferson D. Howell, Jr., as the new Director for NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, effective April 1.

Howell, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General and former commander of Marine Forces, Pacific, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Program Manager for the Safety, Reliability, and Quality Assurance contract at JSC. He is employed by Science Application International Corporation (SAIC).

"General Howell is a true patriot and leader with more than three decades of executive management and financial management experience," said Administrator O'Keefe. "Throughout his military and civilian careers, Jeff has been a leader, an innovator and a team builder. He's the right person to lead the NASA center that's the cornerstone of our human spaceflight operations."

Howell replaces Roy S. Estess, who was temporarily assigned to JSC last February as Acting Director. Estess, a native of Mississippi, will return to his duties as Director of NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center.

"Over the past year, Roy has done a terrific job leading the dedicated people at Johnson," Administrator O'Keefe added. "He agreed to step in at a difficult and challenging time for the agency. His outstanding stewardship and advice played a vital role in today's announcement, and I have expressed my deep appreciation for his service to JSC and to NASA."

Howell has been with SAIC since February 1999, when he first served as Deputy Program Manager of the safety contract. He was named Program Manager in August 1999. Howell manages more than 525 people in support of a contract focused on safety and mission assurance in support of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs.

He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1998 as Marine Forces Pacific Commander, reporting to the four star Commander in Chief, Pacific. Howell was responsible for the operational readiness, training, equipping and welfare of 80,000 Marine personnel based throughout the area. In this capacity, Howell was also charged with maintaining the readiness of more than 600 aircraft and managing an annual operational budget of more than one billion dollars.

"Howell's military service is exemplary and he has a legacy of organizational and financial expertise," concluded Administrator O'Keefe. "I am proud that he has accepted the opportunity and responsibility to lead JSC."

Assigned to naval flight training in 1964, Howell earned his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1965. He flew more than 300 combat missions during Vietnam.

In 1995, after numerous commands, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned as the Command, Marine Forces Pacific/Commanding General Fleet Marine Forces Pacific and Commander Marine Corps Bases, Pacific. He was headquartered at Camp H.M. Smith, Oahu Hawaii, and designated Commander of U.S. Marine Forces Korea and Commander U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

During a distinguished military career, Howell was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, and the Air Medal with two individual and 25 strike flight awards, and the Navy Commendation Meal. In 1980, he received the John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership from the Navy League of the United States.

He earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science and a master's degree in Economics at the University of Texas.

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