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From recruitment to retirement: Joshua Fountain shares his story

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Abigail Duell
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

U.S. Air Force SMSgt Joshua Lee Fountain, a former 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons section chief, celebrates his career coming full circle thanks to the recruiter who helped him join twenty-one years ago. 

“The fact that he thought enough of me to reach out and ask me to do his retirement after I recruited him all those years ago is an honor and something I don’t take lightly,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph Miller, mission crew commander and chief of weapons and tactics at the 224 Air Defense Squadron in Rome, New York. “There was no question in my mind that I was going to be there for him. Being able to retire someone makes you reflect back and realize the impact that you had on their life.” 

Fountain grew up near Buffalo, New York, and had been interested in joining the Air Force from a young age, but the events of 9/11 were what really pushed him to join.  

“We were attacked on that fateful day, and he was a part of the generation that decided to step up afterwards," said Miller. “Him deciding to enlist was extremely honorable.” 

Since joining on Dec. 1, 2001, Fountain has been to seven duty stations including basic training and tech school. He has been a part of several different missions and worked with many people along the way. 

“I enjoyed each mission for different reasons, but the people I served with made them all favorites,” said Fountain.  

In 2008, Fountain became an Air Force recruiter in Potsdam, New York, the same office that he was recruited out of seven years prior. Miller kept in touch over the years and showed Fountain the ropes during this transition.   

“We’ve had this bond ever since,” said Fountain. “We were both recruiters, we did very well at it and we made sure to take care of folks.” 

A few years into the position, Fountain was up for a promotion to Technical Sergeant and due for his reenlistment.  

“After the birth of my two sons and my last year as a recruiter, I knew I was a lifer; up until that point, it was just talk about being a 20-year man,” said Fountain. “I knew I had to take care of my family and the best way to do that was through the Air Force.” 

Without hesitation, Miller drove out to Potsdam to promote and reenlist Fountain.  

“He shows that the relationship between a good recruiter and their recruits perseveres,” said Fountain. “Those bonds are unbreakable.” 

Fountain served another 10 years before deciding that it was time to retire. He feels that he made the most out of his career by promoting everything the Air Force has to offer. 

“I came in fresh out of high school, I’m finishing up with five college degrees and four certifications,” said Fountain. “I’m on a great career path and financially set, which wouldn’t have been possible without the Air Force or the connections I’ve made along the way.”

Although Fountain’s time in the military has come to an end, he knows that he left the Air Force in good hands.

“I am very proud of the fact that I have left the Air Force with so many high character replacements,” said Fountain. “I have built and equipped them with the potential to excel higher than I ever could have hoped.” 

By sharing their story, Fountain and Miller hope to inspire the next generation of Airmen.

“Not only am I still that passionate about the military after 27 years, but I am still that passionate about one of my recruits,” said Miller. “I hope that this story touches somebody, maybe somebody who is thinking about joining will read this and say that they want to be a part of something bigger, a community, the Air Force.”