Real life Rosie the Riveter lives in Brewer

BREWER, Maine (WABI) - This Thursday will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

97-year old Arthur Babineau spent three years overseas with the U.S. Army.

The World War II veteran's 94-year old wife also served our country.

Joy Hollowell introduces us to a real life Rosie the Riveter.

"I was a tack girl. Then I became a welder."

At just 18, Alphena Babineau saw an opportunity to help her country and make good money. She and many other women helped to build wartime ships at Todd-Bath Iron yard. It was one of two ship manufacturing companies in South Portland.

"I wore a leather jacket, helmet, leather gloves, jeans and sometimes leather here because you could get burned," says Babineau.

And she did get singed often, which is why all of the women were required to wear those famous Rosie the Riveter head scarves.

"All of my girlfriends worked in the shipyard," says Babineau, pointing to a black and white photo of her and another women posing in their ship building work clothes. "There were more women than men in the shipyard. Some of them were probably in their 40s, 50 years old."

At one point, the company was launching ships every three days, which meant Alphena worked every day of the week.

"They had these big cranes like on tracks," explains Babineau. "And it was dangerous because they would use the cranes to pick up big pieces of iron. But it never bothered me. When you're young, you know, nothing bothers you."

Alphena says gender discrimination wasn't an issue. She got treated and paid the same as male welders. Many of her colleagues were older men who had aged out of Selective Training.

"It wasn't like today," she says. "They respected you."

In fact, Alphena met her husband Arthur at the shipyard. He worked there as a lead man.

"I saw her several times tacking and welding, so on, wasn't paying attention to her because there was a lot of women on the ship," says Arthur Babineau. "One day a job that I was on took me longer than normal. And we just got to talking while I was waiting and one thing led to another."

When asked it if was love at first sight, Arthur grins and replies, "Well, probably."
He and Alphena both chuckle as they lock eyes with each other.

In October of 1943, Arthur was called up to serve. Soon after, Alphena left her ship building job to become Arthur's wife. That December, Arthur was shipped overseas.

"I thought he'd never come home," says Alphena.

But he did, safe and sound. This August, the couple will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. They have three kids, six grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

"We're together all the time," says Alphena. "If we go downtown or if we go anywhere, we're together. He is my best friend."

Alphena downplays her Rosie the Riveter reputation.

"It was a job, I guess," she says with a shurg.

But Alphena will now admit-

"I was brave, but I'm not that brave today."
In recognition of the 75th anniversary of D-Day Thursday, Honor Flight Maine is hosting a commemoration event in Augusta.

All World War Two veterans will be honored at the Maine National Guard Joint Force Headquarters.

The event starts at 1 p.m. and everyone is invited to attend.

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