KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Since late spring of 2020, more than 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen with the Tennessee National Guard have been activated at some point to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in communities across the state.

One of those deployed is Army Specialist Anthony Spencer of Crossville, a Cumberland University graduate who became a medic because he wanted to help people. He’s been on the front line in communities throughout Tennessee now for 15 months.

“Initially when we first started the primary mission was to help the Health Departments in testing,” said Spencer. He spoke with WATE from a clinic in Hartsville, Tenn. about 150 miles west of Knoxville.

“In the summer of last year, we started going to nursing homes here in Middle Tennessee, then I got moved out to Wilson County where I stayed for a long time. When the vaccines rolled out, as soon as we had them in hand we were trying to get people vaccinated. There were tears, tears of joy from people who were just so ready to move on with their lives and try to get back to whatever normal is going to be.”

Spencer’s desire to serve others began when he was a teenager. In 2011, his Boy Scout Eagle project, the highest honor for a scout, was the development and building of a monument for fallen firefighters located at the public safety building in Crossville.

“I take a lot of pride in being able to serve people as we know part of the scouting culture is service to others,” Spencer said.

Spencer’s civilian job is with the Boy Scouts of America in Knoxville as Eagle Creek’s District Executive. While being deployed, his job and desk await him until his return.

“He’s an Eagle Scout from our Council and he spent his life in Scouting leaning values of serving other people serving his community and he continues that in the Guard, said Nathan Cunningham, Great Smoky Mountian Council. “We’re very proud of him, what a great example for other scouts and people on our staff to really see his serving heart. How he reached out into the community and served others”

Spencer’s work with the TN National Guard is expected to wrap up in a few months. Until then, Spencer will continue providing vaccinations at the Trousdale County Health Department. Recently his unit has been doing community outreach taking the vaccine to the people at their worksites making it more convenient.