News: Rocky Top Marine Gets Out of Driver's Seat
Story by Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Each Marine in the Marine Corps is assigned a specific job and performs tasks to assist the unit in accomplishing its mission. Sometimes Marines must perform duties which seem completely unrelated to their skill sets.
One Chattanooga, Tenn., native has traded in his steering wheel and duties as a motor vehicle operator to support his fellow Marines with Operation Enduring Freedom.
Cpl. Jonathan Booth, the day-time Supply and Logistics watch clerk, records and analyzes data to track 2nd Marine Division (Forward) convoys and air assets that are carrying supplies and equipment for the troops spread throughout the battle space.
If something goes wrong, like a sand storm delaying a convoy or an improvised explosive device disabling a vehicle’s ability to maneuver, known as a mobility kill, it is Booth’s job to monitor the activity and report to his superiors. When Booth relays this information to the commodity section leaders, they can then take action to fix the problem.
“Say a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle has a mobility kill, I would report this to the motor transportation commodity section,” said the 2005 Hamilton County High School Graduate. “[The section leaders] can take action, making sure that everything goes through the right channels and we get that vehicle repaired and back out to the fight.”
Booth’s job requires him to constantly monitor the communication systems he works with and maintain verbal communication with all the commodity sections in the Logistics Operations Center.
The Marine Corps requires multiple entities to work together as a team to achieve mission accomplishment. Booth is a key player within the division LOC, but being a team player has not has always been his strong point. Booth attended three separate high schools in four years prior to joining the Marine Corps.
“I was what you could call a problem child in high school,” said Booth. “I didn’t get along with other kids -- I was small for my age, and kids picked on me regularly. I didn’t really like high school much, and I wanted out.”
Booth was still active in school, despite the rough path he had. His participation in the Young Marine Program and JROTC helped shape his future. Booth said after graduating he wanted to join the Corps, but he was working to support his girlfriend and her child, though his heart yearned to be part of the brotherhood.
“I always told myself if I found someone I cared about enough, I would not go into the military because it is a rough life,” Booth stated. “After talking to her, she told me it would be alright and she would be there every step of the way.”
Booth’s relationship did not last as he imagined it, but he was still set on seeing the commitment he made the country through. He added that his father, a retired navy chief, was not taken aback by his decision to join.
“My dad was not surprised when I told him I enlisted,” said Booth. “He told me, ’I figured you were going to do it anyways.’”
Booth had been in the Marine Corps for just over a year the first time he was asked to step outside of his original occupation during a deployment. He was attached to a Marine Security Element with Joint Special Operations Task Force—Philippines in 2007. He and the Marines he served with during this four-month deployment performed duties as the Personal Security Detachment for the commanding officer of the task force.
He also stood security posts and preformed regular security patrols within the vicinity of the compound as part of his duties.
At one point, Booth’s unit was on high alert because the unit had received intelligence of planned attacks and insurgent activity within their area of operations. Booth noticed some unusual activity outside the main gate during one of his posts and quickly relayed this information through his chain of command. He said there was a suspicious vehicle parked across the street with one man who appeared to be digging on the side of the road while another watched the gate.
“I was patrolling around the front gate of the compound. I noticed there were two fellows outside the gate in a white pick up truck. One was doing something on the other side of it, and one was looking directly at us like a [lookout],” Booth recalled. “I was asked to identify them, and I pointed them out in [mug shots]. According to the reports, they had been planning an attack on the colonel’s convoy for the next day.”
It was because of his attention to details and quick reaction that two known high-profile-terrorists were indentified and eliminated. Booth and three other Marines with his detachment were awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal for their contributions during the deployment.
Deployments, regardless of where they are, offer Marines the opportunity to excel, but it also forces them to leave their families behind to carry out the missions assigned. Booth said he is looking forward to the end of his second deployment, knowing it brings hopes and joys of things to look forward to in the future.
“I’m going to wrap my arms around my parents and let them know how much I care about them,” said Booth. “And I’ll probably go up to the mountains— Signal Mountain, that is where my wife and I had our first date.”
It has been a collaboration of his experiences in high school, his family’s support, and his determination to perform which has made Booth successful during his career and his current deployment.
“He is a very dedicated and loyal Marine,” said Gunnery Sgt. Matthew McLaughlin, a Bloomsburg, Pa., native and the division Supply and Logistics watch officer. “He does whatever it takes to get the job accomplished.”
No matter the duty he is assigned, Booth will continue to step up to perform to the best of his ability, whether he is driving a truck to deliver supplies or he is monitoring a convoy’s progress to make sure the supplies get there.
“He has definitely stepped up to the plate,” said McLaughlin, who is Booth’s direct supervisor. “He’s working on something he has never done before; it was a new challenge and he’s been able to grasp that and run with it.”
McLaughlin added that Booth is a valued member of the team and brings a lot to the table with his job. Booth has been working diligently to ensure he does his job to the best of his ability, not for his sake, but for the Marines who are on the front lines.
“Regardless what I’m doing at the time, some where in the system I am helping out someone else. It may not look like it, but sometimes you have to look past the smaller picture to get to the bigger picture,” said Booth. “I look at it like this, if I wasn’t here some Marines might not be getting their gear. The thing I love about being a Marine is knowing I’m making a difference and having that pride in doing so."