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"I can do anything." From weapons handling to training military K9s, women play key role in securing JEB Little Creek

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Posted at 7:00 AM, Mar 12, 2021

JOINT EXPEDITIONARY BASE LITTLE CREEK-FORT STORY, Va. - Inside the Security building at JEB Little Creek-Fort Story sits a small, tightly-secured room.

The Ready For Issue room the home of the guns and ammo for the U.S. Navy Security Forces on base.

The only window to the outside is a caged door with a small space for MA2 Ashli Jurado to accept IDs and verify that the servicemen and women who have come to pick up weapons are qualified to handle them.

She then leaves the room to watch as the service members on the Security team load their weapons.

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MA2 Ashli Jurado assigns a weapon to a member of the JEB Little Creek-Fort Story Security team.

"It's super important," said MA2 Jurado, the Lead Petty Officer overseeing the Ready For Issue room and the contents inside. "We have a lot of weapons that we're accountable for so everything we do is slow and steady. Accountability is our number one goal here."

Another part of Jurado's accountability? Making sure the weapons she's giving out are functional, "so if anything were to happen, we would be ready."

It's a job Jurado's spent years training for, starting with an early love of weapons handling. She's been in her current position for six months.

Her next big task is training the security team to use M18 pistols that will be arriving to replace the long-used M9s; a huge effort and Jurado is more than capable.

She's spent her life battling perceptions and she says anytime she needs inspiration, she thinks of her younger sisters.

"I've been in many positions where people are, 'Oh, she's small. Oh, she's a woman.' Luckily, not here (on base)," she said. "I can do anything."

On the other side of the building, MA1 Kylee Demagall is three months into her job as Kennel Master where she's responsible for training the base's four-legged service members and their two-legged handlers.

Military Working Dogs (MWD) are critical to base security.

"The dogs are used as deterrents. They're also used to help us find narcotics and explosives," said MA1 Demagall. "The dogs can also be used in a patrol aspect where they'll conduct bite work, so 'find the bad guys.'"

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MA1 Kylee Demagall poses with Boris, one of the Military Working Dogs she oversees as Kennel Master at JEB Little Creek-Fort Story.

And she's wanted to work with dogs since joining the Navy eight years ago.

"At the recruiters office, I said, 'I want to be an MWD handler,'" recalled MA1 Demagall.

The Cleveland native wasn't able to jump right into the job, however. It took years of training and hard work before she was given her first dog.

After successfully working with five dogs, Demagall says she was recommended for Kennel Master school.

She says getting to this point was a long process and while she personally hasn't been treated differently because of her gender, the significance of being a woman in a position of leadership isn't lost on her.

"We'll have little kids that will come see the dogs and just the other day, there was a little girl and she was like 'Dad, that's what I want to do' and so it really hit my heart hearing her say something like that," Demagall told News 3.

Between MA1 Demagall and MA2 Jurado, JEB Little Creek-Fort Story is in good, capable hands.