WWII-era Ingalls Shipbuilding welder turns 100 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

WWII-era Ingalls Shipbuilding welder turns 100

Lorraine Gray, 100, poses with a headline about her from the Ingall's Shipbuilding newspaper. (Photo source: WLOX) Lorraine Gray, 100, poses with a headline about her from the Ingall's Shipbuilding newspaper. (Photo source: WLOX)
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

A lady who broke barriers for women by picking up a welder's torch during World War II now has another accomplishment to which we can all aspire - turning 100-years-old. Lorraine Boyd Gray celebrated the milestone surrounded by family and friends Saturday at Cornerstone Restaurant in Pascagoula. 

Gray went to work as a welder at Ingalls Shipbuilding in the 40s, helping build Navy vessels for the war. 

"My aunt is a woman that did something back in the 40s that few women dared to do," Patty Tallent said of her aunt. "I saw Aunt Lorraine’s employment record, and it says she ‘could out work any four men.’ That’s awesome. It says a lot about her work ethics and how women like her put their best feet forward when they entered the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing workforce."

On March 24, 1944, she was on a team of four burners, the first all-woman team to cut a ship loose to launch at Ingalls Shipbuilding, the S.S. Sea Quail. 

"That made history back then, and I don't know if it's been done again since then," Lorraine's grandson, Michael Vice, said proudly.

Several of Gray's family members followed her into the shipbuilding industry, working at Ingalls. In fact, her niece, Patty Tallent, is a 38-year Ingalls employee and board member of Women in Shipbuilding Enterprises, an Ingalls employee resource group focused on women in the workforce.

As Gray's family prepared for the big celebration this weekend, they spent a little time looking over her employment records, and learned something new: Back in the day, Aunt Lorraine's nickname at the shipyard was "Bertha the Burner."

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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