Donn Booker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Transatlantic Division’s Chief of Business Integration Division, retired from federal service Oct. 1.
Throughout September, Booker was recognized at events with accolades from many of the people he supervised, worked with, and worked for throughout his more than 36-year career.
The Society of American Military Engineers’ Blue Ridge Post bestowed their Laureate Award for Professional Achievement on Booker during the group’s monthly luncheon Sept. 14. He was a long-term member of that post and served as their president in 2008.
Rebecca Moser, the SAME Blue Ridge Post’s vice president of meetings and special events and a program assistant with the Middle East District, said Booker inspired others to improve themselves professionally.
“In addition to his many professional merits, Donn has given the same passion and enthusiasm to the SAME Blue Ridge Post,” she said. “He helped bring the post back from the brink during some difficult days.”
On Sept. 29, following his retirement luncheon, Booker was recognized with an official retirement ceremony. His wife, Wilhelmenia, a Middle East District contract specialist, and two of their four children attended the ceremony - Donn Jr. and Marina. Booker received the DA Meritorious Civilian Service Award; DA Certification of Appreciation and DA Certificate of Retirement signed by TAD Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Carlson; engineer crystal castle, and an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor from Virginia’s 10th District Congresswoman, Hon. Barbara Comstock.
His accolades from Carlson; Maj. Gen. Donald (Ed) Jackson, USACE Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations; and Howard Stickley, SES, Regional Programs Director for the Transatlantic Division, shared a common theme: Taking interest in and caring for other people.
Jackson, unable to attend, sent his thoughts and best wishes to be read at the ceremony, called Booker “a man who through personal example and humility always encourages and strengthens others ... one committed to excellence by empowering others to do remarkable things they never believed they could do themselves.”
Booker, an architectural engineer, began working with the Corps of Engineers straight out of college. Though he wasn’t initially interested in working for the Army, he said an interviewer explained why it was a good idea.
“Do you want to work for the world’s largest engineering organization? It’s the Army. Do you want to see the world? I’ve been all over the world with the Corps of Engineers. The journey has been great.”
After taking advantage of a training program and finishing his Master’s degree, Booker incurred a two year commitment to continue working for USACE. And after the two years were up, he was hooked. He spent time working in Germany, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
During Booker’s tours in the Middle East, he spent time working for Howard Stickley, SES, Regional Programs Director, for the Transatlantic Division.
Stickley reflected on Booker as a “sponsor, mentor, and friend.” The two of them reminisced of when Stickley encouraged Booker to apply for a senior position when he was considering retirement stating “please do, we need your leadership.”
Jackson reflected on similar sentiments as he recalled their service together in Afghanistan in 2014 avowing, “you are a rock...a leader that always focused on what was possible, not what was impossible. A man who successfully brought people together.”
As he closes out his 36-year career with the federal government, Booker said he hopes he’s instilled in his employees a team approach to solving problems.
“I focus on finding solutions,” he said. “Start by identifying the problem and then work together to solve it. I’ve always found that I work better as part of a team.”
“This will be your legacy. Not the projects you have delivered, or the problems you have solved, but the people like me whose lives you have enriched,” Jackson said. “In every assignment you have been an inspiring servant leader, mentor, friend, and brother-in-Christ to everyone. I know you are retiring today from government service, but I know you are not done serving.”
Now that he’s put in his time with the Army, Booker plans to try his hand in the private sector. “I’ve always had a burning desire to start something of my own,” he said. “I’d like to build something from the ground up, helping an organization achieve something they want to achieve.”