AL ASAD, Iraq -- On a daily basis, Cpl. David E. Booth, a D'Lo, Miss. native, protects the lives of the pilots and aircrews of Marine Aerial Transport Refueler Squadron 252 as they transport troops and cargo throughout Iraq and the area of operations.
The KC-130J Hercules communications and navigations technician has been working on defensive electronic countermeasures equipment since his arrival here at Al Asad air base, Iraq, on Feb. 10.
"We get out there and work as hard as we can to make sure our gear is up and running," said the Mendenhall High School graduate. "We work hard because we know that this gear can and will save someone's life."
Booth joined the active duty Marine Corps on Feb. 25, 2002, and went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. for basic training. After boot camp and Marine Combat Training, he attended a course in basic avionics technology at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., where he learned the basics of communications and navigations technology.
Taking what he learned in Florida, Booth went onto more specialized training with the KC-130 at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., where he was assigned to Marine Aerial Transport Refueler Training Squadron 253.
Booth joined VMGR-252 during a time of transition, when the Marine Corps started to introduce its newest generation of the KC-130 Hercules, the "J" model. Booth quickly tackled the task of learning the new aircraft and training the Marines under him to work on the new, high-tech systems.
"We really busted our butts to learn the 'J' as best we could back home," he said. "You can sleep easy at night knowing that your hard work has kept someone safe. It motivates me to keep working so hard every day."
Before his days of "data bits" and "crypto," Booth attended Copiah-Lincoln Community College. However, even before that, he had dreams of wearing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
During his senior year of high school, Booth had enlisted into the Marine Corps' delayed entry program, but instead of going in right after high school, he chose to attend college when he was offered a scholarship to play baseball.
"College wasn't going well, and I wanted to learn a good job skill," Booth recalled. "I had always wanted to be a Marine, and I saw what the Corps had done for my uncle, (Randy Hays.)"
During his three years of service, Booth has established a reputation for excellence in both his job performance and military duties. In February 2004, he was named Marine of the quarter for his squadron and Marine Aircraft Group 14, and also earned a meritorious promotion to the rank of corporal in March 2004.
His wife, Staci, and their 19-month-old son, Kyle, await his return as he serves his country in Iraq. Booth said their support, and that from family and loved ones, help him carry on.
"If it weren't for the support they give me I wouldn't be where I am today," he said. "I miss them a lot, but I am proud to be out here making a difference. Being out here, participating in real-world operations, makes being in the Marines and calling myself a Marine a lot more rewarding."