06/06/2013 -- Traveling from as far north as Kalamazoo, Mich., and Philadelphia, Pa., family, friends and well-wishers filed into the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany May 30 to celebrate the retirement of Debra Moore Capers, supervisory information technology specialist, Marine Corps Logistics Command.
Thirty-five years, two months and 26 days after she began her career as a cooperative education student, here, Capers logged off her computer for the last time, and said her final farewells to staff and colleagues.
To honor her faithful service at MCLB Albany and MCLC, Capers received a retirement certificate, a letter from President Barack H. Obama; a letter from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos; a letter from the MCLC Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Charles Hudson; a letter of appreciation from Michelle Polk, deputy director, Command, Control, Communications and Computers Department and Larry Stevens, director, Enterprise Architect Division, as well as an American flag and flag certificate.
Hudson paralleled Capers’ 35 years of service to occurrences and conflicts in military history.
“When Debra first came to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, we were just ending the Vietnam conflict,” Hudson said. “She was here during Grenada, Panama, (operations) Desert Storm (and) Desert Shield, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Those attending the celebration roared with laughter as Hudson, while smiling, extended his Marine Corps history by listing each of the commandants and sergeants major, whom Capers had “outlived” during her tenure as a civilian-Marine.
“It is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to find anyone to replace you, or the 35 years of dedicated service you have devoted to country, command and the community,” Hudson said.
Capers, who was attending Albany State University, then-College, launched her COOP career at MCLB Albany in August 1977. After graduation in 1980, she was hired as a supply systems analyst, GS-5/7/9 trainee.
In September 1987, Capers was promoted to senior systems analyst, and served as a team leader for a group of supply systems analysts.
In April 2003, Capers was awarded the Woman of Color Emerald Honor for Managerial Leadership at the Third Annual Women of Color Research Science and Technology Awards Conference held in Nashville, Tenn.
This award is given to women whose qualifications and performance place them in the ranks of the nation’s highest achievers in technology and science.
Capers’ family, friends and co-workers also bestowed their personal accolades to the honoree.
According to Bennie Paige, information technology specialist, Software Support Division, C4, MCLC, he and Capers were both students at Albany State and COOP students at MCLB Albany at the same time.
“For the past 35 years, Debra has been my oldest friend,” Paige said. “She started her internship on base in August 1977 and I started my internship in December.”
Paige added, “We have worked in the same branch, for the same supervisor and on some of the same projects for the past 35 years. She is my legacy.”
“I have known Debra since she was a cooperative education student here at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany,” Robert Britton, retired Civilian-Marine, supply systems analyst, MCLC, said. “At some (point) during the time we worked together, she became my team leader.”
Britton continued, “One thing I can remember about Debra is she was always smiling, was in a good mood and was never down.”
“Debra is excitable,” the Rev. James Moore, pastor of Second Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pa., brother of the retiree, said.
Moore continued, “She gets her enthusiasm from our mother. Debra is wordy and outspoken, but there is always substance within her vocalism.”
“We lived in a rural area, and we only had each other growing up,” Moore said. “As a result, we were competitive, and I believe this contributed to us honing and sharpening our skills, which I would say also prepared us for the real world.”
In her closing statements to the audience, Capers recited a spiritual poem, “Drinking from the Saucer,” by poet John Paul Moore.
“Begin planning for your retirement today. Don’t wait,” Capers said. “Many here will tell you I’ve been talking about and planning mine for several years.”
Capers admonished her colleagues with one final thought, “The one thing that you want to do when you plan your retirement is to retire with purpose,” she said. “Don’t just retire from something - retire into something.”
After her retirement, Capers, who is founder and president of Clearly Speaking by Debra, LLC, will continue to pursue her passion of helping others to improve their communication skills and to spend quality time with her mother, who lives in Sylvania, Ga., her daughter Ashley and other family.
Capers’ celebration culminated with a reception at the Town and Country Restaurant’s Grand Ballroom, here.