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Air Force Program Enlists Aid Of Citizens To Help Combat Terrorism

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GOLDSBORO, N.C. — While Many Americans are glued to coverage of the war, military officials are warning people not to take their eyes off the homefront.

The beginning of the war increased threats of terrorism here on the homefront. So, the Air Force created a program aimed at keeping everyone on their toes.

Inside the gates at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base are some of the most powerful machines and skilled members of the Air Force. They protect Americans abroad, but they also make the surrounding community a target for terrorism.

"We're living in a different world now than we did prior to 9-11," said Goldsboro business owner Chris Boyette.

Enter the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the OSI started a program called Operation Eagle Eyes. It enlists the aid of the local community in spotting and preventing terrorism.

OSI works with local law enforcement to investigate reports of suspicious activity. They say they average one to two calls a day from citizens making reports.

The effort has been stepped up since the war started.

"We have (terrorism) here, and it could come reach us," said Sp. Agent Terrence Joyce of the Office Of Special Investigations. "They (local citizens) need to be sensitive to it."

OSI has given out pamphlets to local business owners, telling them what to look for when it comes to terrorism and who to call if they should see something suspicious.

"There has been a time when I did call that number," hair stylist Tina DeMelfi said.

DeMelfi called OSI after overhearing some men ask strange questions about the base in a local grocery store.

"We're all Americans; we fight for our country," DeMelfi said. "We're trying to keep it peaceful, and if terrorists were around, you better believe I'm going to report it."

Said Boyette: "My opinion is that the people out here on the street are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing this kind of thing."

Those are exactly the people the Air Force is counting on.

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