Marine makes Valley visit to marry fiancee

September 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A tour of combat is now over for a Marine from Georgia and Saturday he flew into Fresno on a special mission.

As Cpl. A.J. Booth walked off his plane at Fresno Yosemite International Airport his first move was down on one knee.

It was a formality, really - Booth and his fiancee, Maggie Avila of Fresno were already engaged.

While serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan Booth couldn't wait to show Maggie the ring he bought for her.

"We were Skyping one day and she got it out of me. I was like 'here it is, you'll see it in person it's much better'," Booth said.

"it's exciting. It's all kids of emotions wrapped into one," Avila said.

Booth, an explosives technician, spent the past nine months deployed to a combat zone in Afghanistan. His job - maintaining the weapons on combat helicopters. It's equipment he says will no longer be in service.

"The same helicopters were the same ones that flew in Vietnam, HMH-362, first in Vietnam as a combat squadron. We were the last ones out of combat," Booth said.

The couple has been dating for a year and half. They actually met each other two years ago through an online dating service. Now the reunited couple is planning a wedding.

But this, like their engagement, is a two part process.

Monday morning A.J. and Maggie will be married at the County Clerk's office with a formal ceremony set to be held in Georgia in the coming weeks.

"I couldn't be happier," Booth said.

And neither could his fiancee's family. Booth is marrying into a family with a strong military background.

"I didn't plan it that way, it just happened. Air Force, Navy, now we're adding Marines. My grandpa is Army," Avila said.

Booth has already been deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Once he and Maggie get married he says he'll move to California to eventually transition back to civilian life.


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