KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Answering the call to serve. For four Knoxville first responders, answering that call has spanned a lifetime.

We caught up with Knoxville Fire Department’s Captain Freddie Franklin and firefighter Jonathan Scott as well as Knoxville Police Department’s Sergeant Nelson Hamilton and Captain John Kiely. Four men, who before answering the call to serve their community, served their country.

“I always had my eye on the military,” says KPD captain John Kiely, “I joined the civil air patrol at age 13.”

Kiely served in the U.S. Army and is now a member of the 134th Air Refueling Wing at McGhee-Tyson.

Sergeant Hamilton served 3 years with the U-S Marine Corp.

Firefighter Scott was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Captain Franklin spent time in the U.S. Navy and, like Kiely, is now serving with the 134th.

“It’s awesome to be able to help people and make a career out of that. It’s wonderful,” says Franklin.

So, where does the drive to serve come from? No matter the uniform, these four say it’s about giving back.  

“My grandmother is the reason I am the type of person that wants to help people”, Hamilton tells Six News. “She always raised me to help someone in need.”

“I wanted to do something bigger than myself. Something I never thought I could do”, adds Scott, “Push myself to my limits.”

These four, and so many others like them in East Tennessee, are committed to keeping their neighbors safe. Whether it’s here at home, or serving overseas.

“There’s a bag packed at my house right now”, says Kiely. “If that phone rings and says you need to do X and go to X we’re gone. Let’s go do it, let’s take care of it.”

It’s that mindset all four of these first responders continue to bring to the table.  

“Some days are harder than others, but at the end of the day you made somebody’s bad day a little bit better,” says Scott.

“I’ve learned that, we don’t always get to do things that are fun. That I learned from the military,” adds Hamilton, “but sometimes we have to do things to make it safer or better for other people.”

And for that reason, we say “thank you” to Sergeant Hamilton, Captain Kiely, Firefighter Scott, Captain Franklin and many other area first responders who have traded one uniform for another in their continued drive to serve.