MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Forty years ago this summer, a nine-year-old experienced the best summer of his life here at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga.
Now four decades later, Timothy W. Booker, of Dolton, Ill., a south Chicago suburb, is 49 years old, but still remembers the summer of fun. He came down from the Chicago area in 1969 with his four siblings to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle, and never forgot the great times here at the base.
So Booker decided to plan a return trip down to the base, and visit the place that held such wonderful memories one more time.
“If I didn’t get to see anything else, I wanted to be able to see the house where we stayed that summer,” Booker said. “I remembered the steep hill by our house, I would ride down, and turn right, and there our house would be. But my brother told me that hill might not be as steep as it seemed when I was nine.”
Booker finished working the late shift at a manufacturing company in Dolton at 8 a.m. He went to the airport, flew to Atlanta, and spent the night at a motel.
Then the next day he rented a car and drove down to Albany for one day to see the base. He drove back to Atlanta that night and flew back to Chicago the following afternoon, making his entire trip in a short three days.
Booker, who came down to MCLB Albany from the Chicago area just to see the house and the area where he spent that memorable summer, didn’t find it right away due to all the construction in the housing area.
After a little searching, he finally located his uncle’s old home at 9321B Williams Blvd.
“It is not as big as I remember,” Booker said wistfully. “We used to run around with the other kids in the neighborhood, and cut through the woods to go to the swimming pool.”
Booker planted an American flag in the yard in memory of his uncle and the good times the family shared that year.
He has memories of many sunny days back then, and of lots of kids playing around the housing area.
“We kids rented a bike and rode all the time. It wasn’t a 10-speed or a three-speed, it was an old fashioned one-speed, complete with fender guard and big handlebars,” Booker said with a laugh.
He also found the hill he remembered was actually just a small slope. “The hill just isn’t as steep as I remember!”
Booker’s uncle, the late Staff Sgt. Edward F. Johnson, formerly of Richmond, Va., was a Montford Point Marine and a veteran of the World War II battle for Okinawa. Johnson was stationed here in Albany from 1968 to 1971 as a draftsman and co-managed the commissary. Booker, the youngest of five children, stayed with Johnson from June until September 1969.
“Even though 1969 was the height of the Vietnam War, for a nine-year-old and my siblings, those were some of the good old days,” Booker said.
Because of his admiration for his uncle, Booker also joined the military, served in the Army from 1993 to 1997, and was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kan.
“My uncles service as a Marine was also very influential in my brother Ronald’s decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy,” Booker remembered. “He graduated from there in 1977, and retired from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel after a 28-year career.”
As Booker looked at the softball field, he reminisced about the games played there and times gone by.
“We were five crazy kids here for a great summer, and we didn’t want to go back to Chicago,” he said. “It was a very fun summer, it doesn’t seem like it was 40 years ago.”
Booker was glad to visit the base, if only for a day, after 40 years of being away.
“People don’t understand why I would come all the way down here from Chicago, but I wanted to go back and visit every place I’ve ever lived, including here. I want to go back and see what these places look like now. I’m way overdue here, it has been 40 years.”
“I am glad I came in time before the house is torn down, God wanted me here to make this trip,” Booker commented. “I’m glad I came, it was worth it. Thank God for the Marine Corps, and all these memories. Semper Fi.”