KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Clayton Proctor knew from a young age that he wanted to serve his country.

He calls it a bit of a family tradition.

“There’s a lot of military history and background in my family so it meant a lot for me to be able to join the Air Force and do my time and serve as well,” Proctor said.

Inspired by his father’s service in the Navy, Proctor decided to be the sibling that followed in his footsteps by joining the Air Force in 2014. He said the initial conversation with his dad brought about some jokes.

“He wanted to know why I wasn’t joining the Navy and I jokingly told him I didn’t want to polish my boots,” Proctor said. “But here I am in the fire department and I still like to keep my boots looking good and polished so it turned back around on me.”

Proctor was initially stationed in the United Kingdom before finishing up his active duty stint in Maryland. He said that his background prepared him for what was ahead.

“I grew up around the Navy and I moved around my whole life and that was just part of me,’ Proctor said. “So I knew once I joined that nothing was going to change for me. I knew that my family was all proud of me regardless of what I chose to do.”

Now serving Knoxville as a firefighter in the Air National Guard unit, Proctor participates in the Veterans Day parade whenever he can. He called it a joyful experience.

“It’s great to see all the local veterans that attend the parade to get to go and say thank you to them and just be a big part of the community,” Proctor said. “So, it’s just an awesome experience to be able to go out there and see how much the community supports you, supports the veterans and supports each other.”