Former Paulding County resident, Col. Jeanne LaFountain, will be honored with a retirement ceremony on Saturday at Travis Air Force Base, California, following a 20-year military career. In 2016, LaFountain was promoted to Squadron Commander, 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 349th Airlift Wing, Travis AFB, in California. Prior to that, she was the chief nurse at the 932nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 932nd Airlift Wing, Scott AFB, in Illinois.
Col. LaFountain began her military career in 1999, by direct appointment as an Air Force Reserve commissioned officer in the rank of captain. She served as a flight nurse at Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton. In 1999, she completed commissioned officer training and in 2000, she completed the flight nurse course. In her 16 years at Wright Patterson AFB, she served in many leadership roles in different categories.
She has been deployed several times since 2003 in support of Operations Iraqi/Enduring Freedom in aircrew and leadership roles. She provided aeromedical evacuation training to African medical personnel. In 2005, she was one of the first AE crews to arrive in New Orleans to evacuate displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. In her civilian capacity, she has more than 40 years of clinical nursing experience in staff, educator and leadership roles.
Her major decorations and awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with three oak leaf clusters and Combat Readiness with four oak leaf clusters.
She has also received the Afghanistan Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Iraq Campaign medal with one oak leaf cluster, Global War on Terrorism Service, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold border/silver oak leaf cluster, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with five “M” devices, Small Arms Expert Markmanship (pistol) and the NATO ISAF ribbon.
LaFountain was raised on her family’s farm near Melrose and graduated from Oakwood High School in 1971. She has three sisters and a brother still residing locally: sisters Jill Doster and Jan Mansfield live near Melrose, Joy Bullinger resides in Ridgeville Corners and brother, Jim Dobbelaere lives in Napoleon. A sister, Judy Bradford, is deceased.
LaFountain, who currently resides in Delaware, near Columbus, also has two daughters, Courtney Almashy, of Galena, and Danielle LaFountain-Adkins, of Columbus. She also has four grandchildren.
As for her plans following retirement, LaFountain has some immediate goals.
“We plan to spend three weeks traveling back across the country exploring some or our national parks and camping,” said LaFountain. “Then, I plan to spend more time with my grandkids. With all the time I spent away on duty, I missed a lot of soccer games, dance recitals and other school functions.
(Portions of this story are from a July 10, 2016, story by Darlene Prince at the time of Col. LaFountain’s promotion to Squadron Commander.)