Two-time Airman of the Year honored by New Braunfels Chamber
By Steve VanWert, Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
/ Published May 05, 2008
RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
It wasn't a surprise that Senior Airman Jennifer Booth felt a touch of deja vu Thursday evening (May 1) while being honored by the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce as Randolph Airman of the Year. After all, she'd stood at the same spot and received the same award the year before.
Guests at this year's reception included Maj. Gen. K.C. McClain, Air Force Personnel Center commander; Chief Master Sgt. Richard Kaiser, AFPC command chief; and Col. James Sohan, 12th Mission Support Group commander, as well as many dignitaries from the New Braunfels Chamber.
The 28-year-old assigned to the Air Force Personnel Center here has made a habit of garnering awards since she first arrived at Randolph in April 2006. She's been Airman of the Year (junior enlisted member) for AFPC and Randolph Air Force Base in 2006 and 2007. She's been a member of the Randolph Honor Guard since October 2006 and is currently a Randolph Ambassador.
Originally from North Carolina where her father is an Air Force veteran, Airman Booth graduated from North Forsyth High School in 1998 and in 2003 earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. After working as a social worker, she just felt her life was incomplete.
"The military was always an option for me," she said. "My dad was in the Air Force, so I'd been on bases for air shows and grew up around air planes all of my life. Once my brother enlisted and I was exposed to more Air Force life and structure, I felt that this was my calling - this is what I wanted to do."
After enlisting in the Delayed Enlistment Program in June 2005, she left for basic training on Dec. 27. In March 2006 she graduated from technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., as a personnelist. Although she hasn't been at AFPC for long, she's made the most of her experience.
"All the recognition has been a surprise," she said. "But I love Randolph. This is definitely one of the best assignments one could have in the Air Force."
It's been a busy couple of years. In October 2006, she joined the Randolph Honor Guard for an 18-month tour. She became head trainer in January 2007. "I feel it's a huge call to duty," she said. "Everybody should join the Honor Guard once during their career. It's a huge honor. It's taught me so much about the Air Force and given me so many opportunities to interact for that last time with Air Force families."
One of her most enduring memories of her time on the Honor Guard was the first active duty funeral she performed at. "It was tough," she said. "The active duty member was my age or maybe even younger. But it was an honor."
As a Randolph Ambassador, Airman Booth had another opportunity to interact with communities on and off base. Along with Senior Airman Vikas Kumar from the 12th Medical Group, Airman Booth attended more than 60 events in 10 days during the recent San Antonio Fiesta. "It's the best thing that's happened to me since I've been at Randolph," she said. "I'm getting to experience something most will never know. I've met some powerful, influential people doing great things for San Antonio. And along the way I've learned a lot about the city and its culture.
"As an Ambassador, you get to reach out to the community on and off base and serve as a representative of Randolph and the Air Force," she continued. "There were lots of 10-hour days during Fiesta, but they were all worth it. I urge anyone who has the opportunity to be an Ambassador to go for it."
Although incredibly busy, Airman Booth still has time to make plans for the future. She plans on working on her master's in health administration degree either this fall or next spring. She'll be testing for promotion to staff sergeant soon and would like to apply for Officer Training School, as well.
"If I'm selected, I hope to stay in Personnel," she said. "But if I'm not, I plan on reenlisting."
She has praise for the New Braunfels Chamber, even as they honor her. "They've been supporting the military for 40 years as sponsors for the Airman of the Year/Quarter category," she said. "They're awesome people."