The flag has been in Trenton Spencer's go bag all across the globe.
Through five deployments and 47 activations, he has had two flags with him. As a general once told him, he said, one flag will stay with him through his end. As far as the other flag, he’ll know when it’s time to give that one up.
Spencer presented that flag to Jake Shapiro and Moon River Studios, his new employers, last Thursday at the studio’s new office.
“Jake and his commitment to veterans is real,” Spencer said. “He wants to bring them on board. He genuinely cares about veterans.”
Spencer has joined Moon River as a production assistant, but Shapiro has told him his extensive military background will be put to use, and he may work as a project manager and in support of the vice president of operations.
With a degree in behavioral psychology from Florida State University, Spencer received his commission and spent four-and-a-half years on active duty. He went into the Reserves and was activated 47 times from 2005-13. He went on active duty in May 2001 and was deployed within his first year of service as a logistics war plans officer.
But the number of times he got called up, sometimes just for a few weeks, scared off prospective employers.
“So I could never get a civilian job,” Spencer said. “Who’s going to hire someone who’s not going to be here two weeks from now?”
He is assigned to the 94th Aerial Port Squadron, based at Robins Air Force Base. He came to Savannah by way of the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The Army needed someone to do real estate,” he said. “They couldn’t find anyone in the Army, so they came to the Air Force. They said, hey, we’ve got a guy we can activate. So they brought me up from civilian status to Savannah.”
Spencer also was at a Fallujah, Iraq, Marine base for seven months and spent nine months as an organizational consultant at Robins. He spent a year with the Corps of Engineers doing real estate and left in 2010.
“But I said I like it in Savannah and Coastal Georgia,” Spencer acknowledged. “There is no reason to move away from here.”
Spencer spent a year applying for jobs but prospective employers told him he was either overqualified or had no civilian experience.
“I was unemployed for a year and a half. I was almost at the end,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Spencer said he also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and it led to suicidal thoughts. Even in a trip to the hospital, the flag was in his go bag. He’s also handed it to pilots to fly it on a mission and then have it returned to him.
“It’s been to Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Cyprus, Germany, Sicily, Italy, it’s been all over the U.S,” Spencer said.
The flag also means something to Shapiro, whose father was a major in the Army and whose grandfather was a battalion commander in the South Pacific. Shapiro’s father didn’t meet his own father until he was 3-and-a-half years old.
“It’s amazing when you think of that,” he said.
Now that he’s a part of Moon River, Spencer wants the flag to be a part of everything the studio does.
“This is my new home. I have a place to be,” he said. “I want this flag to go in every single movie this company does.”