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One Decision Creates a Legacy; First Female Defender at Scott AFB Inspires Airmen

Airman 1st Class Maria Nunez, 375th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, scans a common access card, March 16, 2021, at the Shiloh Gate on Scott Air Force Base, Il. Nunez has been in the Air Force for a year and describes herself as a people person. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

Airman 1st Class Maria Nunez, 375th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, scans a common access card, March 16, 2021, at the Shiloh Gate on Scott Air Force Base, Il. Nunez has been in the Air Force for a year and describes herself as a people person. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

Airman 1st Class Maria Nunez, 375th Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller, prepares to scan a common access card at the Shiloh Gate, March 16, 2021 at Scott Air Force Base, Il. Nunez joined the Air Force because of how inspired she was by her Junior Reserve Officer Training instructors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

Airman 1st Class Maria Nunez, 375th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, prepares to scan a common access card at the Shiloh Gate, March 16, 2021 at Scott Air Force Base, Il. Nunez joined the Air Force because of how inspired she was by her Junior Reserve Officer Training instructors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

Airman 1st Class Maria Nunez, 375th Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller, motions oncoming personnel at the Shiloh gate forward, March 16, 2021 at Scott Air Force Base, Il. Nunez said one of her favorite parts about the job has been going on calls and interacting with Airmen on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

Airman 1st Class Maria Nunez, 375th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, motions oncoming personnel at the Shiloh gate forward, March 16, 2021 at Scott Air Force Base, Il. Nunez said one of her favorite parts about the job has been going on calls and interacting with Airmen on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dalton Williams)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill — There are certain crossroads in life where one decision creates a legacy and for Sgt. Pat Hollingsworth, her decision 49 years ago would impact generations to come.

That decision came in the form of a new career path in the Air Force, who were opening new career fields to women. Feeling a sense of ambition strong enough it was practically in her veins, Hollingsworth volunteered for Security Police.

Prior to joining the Air Force, Hollingsworth was an administrative specialist and trying to get into medical school. One of seven women in her career field, she became the first female Defender at Scott Air Force Base in 1972.

Today, there are 45 female Defenders at Scott AFB. That sense of ambition has fueled and lit the torch for others like Airman 1st Class Maria Nunez, to carry forward.

“She’s inspiring for having the heart and the passion to join security forces,” said Nunez. “She had a mindset that she was going to do it.”

Nunez, an entry controller from the 375th Security Forces Squadron, says she shares some of that mentality. Throughout her life, Nunez recalls being counted out because of her height or perceived ability and how much stronger persevering through those struggles made her.

“It built my character, it made me a more dedicated person to prove that I can,” said Nunez. “You shouldn’t stop yourself from doing anything if someone says “we normally don’t have someone like you do this.”

That grit and determination is something they both share, as well as a desire to pay it forward to other people on base. Both knowing the importance of taking the time to slow down and lend a helping hand to others. To those looking to follow in her footsteps, Hollingsworth offered these words of advice.

“Women should become police officers only if they have enough patience to work with people,” said Hollingsworth.

Nunez agrees that being a people person is vital to the career field, and is part of what makes it so special to her. Whether it’s a smile at the gate or hearing someone’s life story, it’s the importance of these brief interactions that fuel Nunez daily. To her, every car has a story.

“When you’re at the gate, you’re the first impression of Scott,” said Nunez. “Sometimes by saying something small, it might just make their day.”

What started with a decision, is now a legacy because of Airmen like Hollingsworth. Struck by ambition, she stepped forward and didn’t look back. Now, Airmen like Nunez and other female Defenders across the Air Force will be there carrying the torch until it’s time to pass it onto the next generation.