PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Ingalls shipbuilding is one of the largest employers in the state of Mississippi. Each one of those employees has a story to tell. One man has worked at the shipyard for more than half of its existence.
It has been decades since Larry Putman first stepped onto the shipyard at Ingalls, and he still has the same work ethic and philosophy that he did when he started here.
“Help your fellow man, and teach those that are coming up under you. Train those. That’s what we forget sometimes. We need to train the younger generation,” said Putman.
As a general foreman for the shipbuilder, Putman has seen 140 ships to completion, and trained countless mentees in the process. One of those under his tutelage is Yolanda Penn.
“He tells us to take pride in our work and to do our work right the first time,” said Penn.
As a single mother of three, and a Navy veteran, Penn has her fair share of challenges in life, but watching Putman and his success out of unconventional circumstances gives her a picture of what it takes to make it.
“I really look at him as an example because he came from an orphanage and rose up, and he’s been here 43 years,” said Penn.
Putman said that orphanage in Mobile set him on the path he's on now.
“When you finished the orphanage and high school you had two choices; go to college or join the service,” said Putman.
So he became a Marine.
“I was proud to serve my country. I was proud to be a Marine and serve in Vietnam protecting America. I’ve always been taught to be proud,” said Putman.
The pride he takes in his work can be seen in every U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter that now sails off the production line. It also shows in his character on the job and his focus on doing it right.
“Started out third class and worked my way up. What made me what I am today is the shipbuilding at Ingalls,” said Putman.
Putman is now considered a master shipbuilder after being at the shipyard for more than 40 years.