Wooten, 46, of Lincoln, joined the Marines in 1997 and later moved to the Nebraska Army National Guard. He and his wife, Misty, have 10 children. One of his sons, Spc. Micaiah Wooten, 21, is also deployed in Djibouti.
This has earned them some attention among American allies in East Africa. The Italian commander invited them to join him for lunch. And the Spanish commander presented them with passes for the swimming pool of the hotel where the Spanish soldiers are quartered.
A French officer taught David Wooten to play the ukulele.
“Even though we all have cultural differences,” he said, “kindness is universal.”
First Lieutenant Travis Prather is also a military liaison – in his case, with the Djiboutian armed forces.
This job put him in a position to experience things unfamiliar to a 25-year-old agriculture graduate from McKenzie, Tennessee, who now works at a feedlot in rural Stapleton, Nebraska.
Like eating camel meat in a restaurant in Djibouti. He said it was cut into strips and served grilled, like fajitas.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Prather said.
He said he was impressed by Djiboutians’ respect for community elders and their ingenuity in raising herds of camels and goats to support their families, even with few resources.