Despite the controversy of the conflict overseas, Fountain is firm in his opinion on the subject.
“I don’t care what motives our government has,” Fountain said. “I know that the work we’re doing is good.” That work includes deployment in the second, third and eighth waves of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a rifleman and a sniper and Marine expeditionary unit that trained Kuwaiti and Jordanian military.
Fountain described his work in Iraq as “purely reactionary,” with his squad’s function similar to a police force.
Fountain views the constructive side of his job with pride, remembering the two schools he personally helped build while in Iraq. Three teams of Marines rotated the duties of providing security for the build site and helping the stone masons.
“I believe in making a positive impact and getting rid of people who want to mess that up,” Fountain said.
Fountain’s time in between firefights was also spent with a Navy Corpsman and a battlefield medic who patrolled on foot with his squad providing medicine and care to Iraqis who were injured or in need. He also worked closely with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
Often, the danger and the altruism had close ties. In 2005, as the citizens of Iraq prepared to host their first free election since the fall of Saddam Hussein, an insurgent group filled the ground floor of an Al ‘Karma school with propane tanks and explosives and reduced it to rubble in an attempt to disrupt the scheduled voting.
The Marines stepped in and blocked off the roads with concrete barriers against potential car bombings. Fountain’s team took point on site security. The voting went ahead as planned and the site boasted one of the highest voter turnouts in the country.
Though he keeps his focus on the positive memories, Fountain has not gone untouched by his combat experience with snipers, IEDs and firefights.
“I miss those guys that lost their lives, but that’s just inherent in the job,” Fountain said. “Every single Marine that I worked with realizes the risk involved in what we do, but we’re ultimately trying to make the world a better place.”
He credited his faith for helping him through the worst of it all.
“It’s rough losing buddies and seeing some of the things I’ve seen,” Fountain said. “I pray all the time, especially in combat.”
These days, Fountain studies political science textbooks instead of enemy troops as he prepares to graduate next year.
The small amount of time he is not in school or with his wife and daughter, he helps Auburn Student Veterans Association with competition shooting and teaching martial arts.
Fountain will be promoted to 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation from Auburn, his degree a prerequisite for officer training. After that, he will be back out in the field, doing the work that he enjoys.
“There’s something about being outside that makes me feel better about the world,” Fountain said.
He confessed that the high stress situations involved in his job can be addictive and he testifies to the power of the adrenaline rush.
“That’s what I love about the Marine Corps,” Fountain said. “It’s a bunch of ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.”