Crossville Guardsman And Eagle Scout Does More Than His Duty

Spc. Anthony Spencer with the Tennessee National Guard prepares a vaccination dose for a patient at the Trousdale County Health Department on June 9. (photo by Lt. Col. Darrin Haas)

From press release:

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. – When COVID-19 swept across the United States and
throughout Tennessee in March 2020, Spc. Anthony Spencer knew it was his
duty to help his community and state during this time of distress. A trained
healthcare specialist with the Tennessee National Guard and lifelong Scout,
he had the skills and character to do what he knew was right.

A Crossville native and District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America,
Spencer put his career on hold, left home, and risked his own health as a
part of the Tennessee National Guard’s initial COVID-19 response team. For
more than a year now, he has been a key part of Tennessee’s fight against
the deadly pandemic.

“As a Scout and Guardsman, I felt called to be a part of the response and
give back to my community that had given me so much,” said Spencer.

Serving his country and being a Scout is something Spencer does not take

He began scouting in elementary school as a Cub Scout and progressed through
the ranks to become an Eagle Scout with Crossville’s Boy Scout Troop 271 in
2011. He earned Eagle Scout, the highest honor a Boy Scout can earn, by
planning, developing, and constructing a firefighter memorial in front of
the Crossville Public Safety building.

“There is only one name on the memorial, and I hope that it stays that way
forever,” said Spencer.

Once Spencer finished the project he continued supporting scouting, trying
to live the Scout Slogan, “do a good turn daily,” and Scout Motto, “be
prepared.” While in high school, he worked as a scouting instructor at Camp
Buck Toms in Rockwood, Tennessee, and mentored scouts at his troop’s

After graduating from Crossville High School in 2014, Spencer attended
Cumberland University in Lebanon to earn his bachelor’s degree in
biochemistry. While studying, he contributed to his local scout troop and
served as a lifeguard and ski instructor at Camp Buck Toms. By his junior
year, he was the camp’s aquatics director.

Two days after graduating from college in May 2018, Spencer enlisted in the
Tennessee National Guard as a medic for the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s
2nd Squadron, headquartered in Cookeville.

“When school was over, I wanted to do something bigger than myself, I felt
called to serve my county,” said Spencer. “I chose to become a medic because
I wanted to help people directly. Scouting teaches us that service to others
is the highest calling.”

In September, Spencer left for basic combat training at Fort Benning,
Georgia, followed by 16 weeks of advanced training as a healthcare
specialist at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He learned how to treat Soldiers for
everything from mild illnesses to battlefield casualties.

Once he graduated in March 2019, Spencer returned to Tennessee to drill at
his unit in Cookeville. That summer, Spencer also returned to his scouting
roots and worked again at Camp Buck Toms, as he did every year since turning
15-years-old. He also applied for and was offered a position as the District
Executive for the Boy Scouts of America’s Great Smoky Mountain Council. He
now serves the Eagle Creek District, which serves Cumberland, Fentress,
Morgan, Pickett, Roane, and Scott County.

“It was a dream of mine to become a professional scouter and help give
younger scouts the character building experiences that helped me,” said
Spencer. “After all those years working at summer camp, I really wanted to
make it a career.”

As the district executive, Spencer helps the organizations in his district
plan events, organize and manage their troops, ensure all policies and
procedures are followed, and help fundraise. He was the executive for nearly
a year when the pandemic began.

“Troops and packs stopped having meetings and schools shut down. Everything
came to a grinding halt as we started to understand what it meant to live in
a pandemic,” said Spencer.

As everyone braced for the statewide shutdown in March 2020, the state of
Tennessee began fighting COVID-19. Gov. Bill Lee and Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes,
Tennessee’s Adjutant General, mobilized more than 250 Soldiers and Airmen
with medical backgrounds to support the Tennessee Emergency Management
Agency and Department of Health. These Guardsmen were to be on the
frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 and supporting testing of Tennessee

“When my unit called and told me I was needed, there was no pause, I was
excited to do what I was trained for,” said Spencer. “It was a wonderful
opportunity to really use my skills as a medic at home and live up to the
Scout Slogan to ‘do a good turn daily.'”

He mobilized with the first group of Guardsmen to help test Tennesseans for
COVID-19 at drive-thru testing centers across the state. After completing
initial training in Smyrna on how to conduct tests and protect yourself and
others from the disease, Spencer reported to the Jackson County Health
Department to assist with their testing efforts.

“Everything happened so quickly,” said Spencer. “In just a few days, I was
swabbing people who feared they might had contracted the virus. Some people
were very scared, but we did everything we could to comfort them and ensure
people we were doing all we could to help.”

After a few months, he returned to Smyrna and helped with COVID-19 testing
at various nursing homes across Middle Tennessee. He helped at high-risk
communities, long-term care facilities, and he even tested Tennessee State
Troopers in Jackson. He spent months supporting missions throughout Middle
Tennessee to help those in need. At times, he also assisted with
administration and traffic control at testing sites.

In November, Spencer reported to Lebanon to support the drive-thru testing
site serving Wilson County. He also helped stand up an aid center at the
Methodist Hospital in Memphis.

Around January, the Tennessee National Guard began establishing vaccination
sites. Spencer stayed in Lebanon to develop vaccination protocols for Wilson
County and then began vaccinating local citizens.

“Many people who came to be vaccinated were excited and relieved that this
day had finally arrived. Some were so happy that they began to cry and kept
thanking me,” said Spencer. “Many times, I was glad to lend my ear to
someone who needed comforting due to his or her fear of what was going on.
It was humbling to know we were able to have a positive impact on someone’s

From January to April, the Lebanon testing and vaccination site was
averaging more than 650 vaccinations per day. Once the vaccination rate
began to slow, Spencer had an opportunity to utilize his skills in a
different community. In April, he was selected to help stand up another
vaccination and testing site in Hartsville with the Trousdale County Health
Department. The site averaged nearly 70 vaccinations a day in an area where
vaccines were not available previously.

Currently, Spencer is still providing vaccinations at the Trousdale County
Health Department. His team has also begun visiting various businesses and
organizations in the community offering to vaccinate in locations convenient
to them.

“Everyone I’ve worked with during this pandemic has been professional and
are doing everything they can to help those in need,” said Spencer. “I love
being able to help my fellow Tennesseans to combat this unforeseen enemy.
It’s been a privilege to serve.”

Spencer will continue serving until the Guard is no longer needed to help
during this crisis. He then plans to return to the Eagle Creek District of
the Boy Scouts of America as their district executive.

“It’s amazing how much Scouting and the Guard have in common,” said Spencer.
“The Guard has given me the opportunity to live my Scout Oath and Promise
every day and to give back. It’s been a privilege and a gift to be able to
help this past year and I look forward to taking my experiences back to