Senior Master Sergeant, Juan Ponder enlisted in the United States Air Force in October 1956 and retired October 1976, after serving 20 years. He did his basic training in 1956 at Lackland Air force Base in Texas. Juan went on to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for his technical training. He studied to become an aircraft mechanic at NCO Preparatory School and graduated second in his class. Juan served in Vietnam for three and one half years as a helicopter mechanic. In addition, he worked as a Para rescue trooper saving many lives in the jungle. He fell behind enemy lines once to be rescued by Korean soldiers. His unit only lost one helicopter and was honored with the Purple Heart Medal. During his service, Juan traveled extensively throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. In 1960 as flight crew chief, his aircraft escorted the Russian Prime Minister Khrushchev to the United States.
Juan worked for the Henry County Board of Education as an Auto and Bus Mechanic from 1980 until his retirement on August 17, 2006. He was a member of Wesley Chapel Methodist Church all his life. Juan faithfully served in several leadership positions until his health began to fail which included President of the Usher Board, Chairman of Trustees, Secretary of the Administrative Counsel, President of United Methodist Men and served on the District and Conference level. He was also a member of the Locust Grove Masonic Lodge #573 and an Adjutant of American Legion Post 516. Juan will be remembered for his bravery, dedication, commitment, and true walk as a spiritual soldier.