By Airman 1st Class Harry Brexel
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A team of select Airmen from the 19th Security Forces Squadron make up the first layer of Little Rock Air Force Base integrated defense. The group works around the clock at the visitor center ensuring that no unauthorized guests gain access to the base.
Little Rock AFB conducts 100-percent identification checks on anyone who enters the base. Although the full ID check may be more work, Staff Sgt. Gina Way, noncommissioned officer in charge of the visitor center, ensures it is worth it.
“We want people to feel safe,” said Way. “Every month, we apprehend an average of 150 people for having warrants out for their arrest.”
The visitor center ensures safety in a couple of ways. Not just anyone can walk onto Little Rock AFB.
“No registered sex offenders are allowed on base, nor is anyone who has had a felony in the past ten years,” Way said.
More than 11,000 visitor passes are issued to people every month. Security Forces Airmen must constantly run background checks on all guests to the base.
All base events that bring civilians onto The Rock must have all parties involved register and be cleared by the visitor center as well. It takes around five to 700 access rosters each month for the events to be approved. Along with safety, it ensures that long lines do not form at the gate.
“I have a fantastic group of 11 Airmen who know their job inside and out,” said Way. “Working at the visitor center is not something that all Security Forces Airmen can do. I have to be selective when choosing who should work at the VC. They (the Airmen) must be personable and quick decision-makers.”
The newest visitor center clerk, Airman 1st Class Ashlee Salato said, “I feel very luck for being selected to work here. Staff Sgt. Way is a good NCOIC, and she trusts us.”
“My favorite part about this job is being able to meet people,” said Senior Airman Jordan Hatton, 19th Security Forces squadron visitor center clerk.
Unlike larger bases, the Airmen working at the Little Rock AFB Visitor Center greet all guests.
“We don’t just focus on getting people in and out,” Way said. “We want people to leave with a smile.”
Way said she feels privileged to work on an Air Force base that is much smaller than her last.
“Little Rock AFB enables visitor center Airmen to get to know people,” said Way.
19th Security Forces Airmen will continue to maintain a constant shift at the visitor center. Not only will the team ensure base safety, but they will welcome all guests to the home of C-130 combat airlift. The visitor center can be reached at 501-987-3425.