"I was in a metal band, but I'm really into 'ska' music so that didn't work out," said Fontes. "I attended school for awhile, but that didn't feel right and most recently I worked as a butcher at our local grocery."
Fontes knew the career opportunities were limited in his home town and wanted more than what Nogales had to offer.
"A lot of people I know spend their entire life in our home town," said Fontes. "I thought to myself, I'm a young man with a girlfriend and two children, I really didn't know if I wanted to spend my whole life just working in Nogales."
Fontes, then 23-years-old, began to think about joining the military. He began to remember those in his own family who had served in WWII, Vietnam and Desert Storm; he knew the Army was the right career move.
"I needed to do something more important, something better for my family," said Fontes. "So one day, I asked my girlfriend Adrien if she would be alright with me joining the Army, she said yes."
That wasn't the only question on Fontes' mind or the only thing Adrien would say 'yes' to. Fontes asked Adrien for her hand in marriage before joining the military.
"I had been with Adrien for awhile, but it wasn't until just before I joined the Army that we decided to get married," said Fontes. "We always talked about getting married but never did. I wanted my family to be with me while I served."
Fontes signed his contract performing a180 degree career turn, picking a military occupational specialty that he had no background in. Fontes was to become a light wheeled vehicle mechanic.
"One of the things I dislike the most is being overcharged by a mechanic," said Fontes. "I wanted to have a better understanding of the operational mechanics of vehicles, so I could be more independent."
After basic training, Fontes was assigned to the "Providers," Company E, 210 Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., and soon learned that his unit would deploy to Afghanistan. Fontes was prepared and knew the importance of his mission.
"Even if it's not me out there in combat, I'm a mechanic, so I have to do my job the best way possible," said Fontes. "If I mess up on those vehicles and they break down, it makes the Soldiers inside those trucks more vulnerable. I'm really proud of what we do."
Pride in his work is not the only thing Fontes enjoys about his job. He respects how the military has opened his eyes and made him more aware of the world around him.
"It's the respect for other Soldiers, the feeling of brotherhood and the discipline that motivates me," said Fontes. "You don't find this kind of brotherhood or support outside of the military; these strong bonds are one of the things that make me really happy."
Even when times are tough, Fontes knows he can count on the strength of his fellow Soldiers to pull him through.
"Sometimes it's just sharing a laugh," said Fontes. "When it's sucking really bad here, which sometimes it does, and you share that laugh, you appreciate that bond and how someone looks out for you."
Fontes' strong sense of pride in his family, the Army, his country and the Soldiers he serves with has always been there, the Army has helped to amplify those feelings.
"It's always good to serve your country," said Fontes. "All the things we had while we were growing up were because of people like us. This is something I have always held near and dear to my heart."
Fontes is currently focused on the promotion board, and has recently reenlisted for an additional four years. Upon his return to the states, Fontes and his family will relocate to Joint base Lewis-McCord, Wash.
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