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Marine sergeant major named top enlisted leader in Afghanistan

Jun. 5, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. Maj. James Booker
Sgt. Maj. James Booker (U.S. Marine Corps)
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Read Sgt. Maj. Booker’s Silver Star citation

Military Times Hall of Valor

A Marine sergeant major who earned the Silver Star has been selected as the new top enlisted leader in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Sgt. Maj. James Booker will become the senior enlisted leader for U.S. Forces Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Forces, commanded by Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, in Kabul. Booker currently serves under Lt. Gen. Steven Hummer as the sergeant major for Marine Corps Forces Reserve and Marine Corps Forces North, out of New Orleans.

Booker earned the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest valor award, for heroism in Iraq in 2004 while serving as the sergeant major of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. He is credited with braving enemy fire multiple times from February to September 2004. In particular, his Silver Star citation highlights his actions on March 31, 2004, after his command element came under fire from machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

“With utter disregard for his own safety, Sergeant Major Booker dismounted the vehicle, engaged the enemy and forced their withdrawal,” the citation says. “He pursued his attackers down several darkened city streets and mortally wounded a rocket-propelled grenade gunner who was engaging the Command Group.”

Booker enlisted as an infantry rifleman in 1983, and later became a scout sniper. As a staff sergeant, he served as a platoon sergeant in First Force Reconnaissance Company from 1989 to 1993.

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