Editor’s Note: Throughout the week and in observance of Veterans Day, @Ford Online will spotlight stories of those who have served their country and their connection to Ford Motor Company.
FLAT ROCK, Mich. - Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Boothe, 82nd Airborne Division, was the first person to turn on the engine of his brand new 2013 Shelby GT500 as it came off the line at Flat Rock Assembly Plant (FRAP).
Boothe recently returned from a seven month tour in Afghanistan and to say thanks for his service, Ford invited him and his family to tour the home of the Mustang.
“I jump out of airplanes, rappel out of helicopters and go to warzones for a living,” Boothe said, “but this was one of the coolest things I have ever had done for me.”
Boothe, his wife who also serves in the Army, and his daughter made their way to Michigan from North Carolina thanks to the American Legion Ford Motor Post 173 and the Ford Veteran’s Network who chipped in to help pay for travel expenses.
They were met at the plant by veterans of the UAW Local 3000, the 82nd Airborne Division Association, the American Legion Ford Motor Post 173 and the Veteran’s Network Group in addition to Ford and FRAP representatives. As an added bonus, Mustang Chief Engineer Dave Pericak made it a point to be there too.
“It was very cool to meet the head engineer for the Mustang,” Booth said, “but with so much going on I didn't even get to ask him all the Mustang questions I would have liked to.”
Boothe is a Mustang enthusiast through and through. The first car he was able to buy on his own was a 1991 Ford Mustang coupe and he said that he has had one ever since. He currently owns a 1965 coupe, a 1988 GT, a 2004 Mach 1, and now he has his 2013 Shelby GT 500. Even his daughter’s name is Shelby, and that is no accident.
“It was awesome to be able to go onto the floor and see the Mustang being built up close and personal,” Boothe said. “I was very happy with the trip up to Dearborn and I appreciate that Ford did this for me.”
Boothe took delivery of his pony in late October.