Fort Lee Traveller: Army Refueler Makes Statement With Pageant Win

PORTLAND, Maine – Sgt. Marina Gray, a petroleum supply specialist serving in the Army National Guard here, earned the title of Miss Maine USA on Nov. 26. She will go on to compete at the national level Miss USA pageant this summer, which could set the stage for an opportunity to represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant in the fall.

The Mount Desert Island native comes from humble beginnings and said she overcame many challenges that helped shape her into the strong, independent woman she is today.

“I felt when I was younger, I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I wanted because I came from a low-income family,” Gray said. “I didn’t think my life would be as fruitful as it has been; I guess I got here because I just kept fighting for it.”

Gray said, above all, she wants to give hope to children who grow up in situations like hers – emphasizing they can still go after what they want and should never feel like they can’t achieve lofty goals.

“I left home when I was 16 years old,” she recalled. “When I joined the Army at 17, the military immediately became my family and has supported me through the years.”

Gray became legally responsible for herself through the emancipation process and graduated from high school in just three years. She left for Army basic combat training two months after her 17th birthday.

“I definitely think the military helped shape me into the hard-working, moral person I am today,” she noted. “I’m thankful I have the military in my life and everyone backing me.”

Gray has been in the Maine Army National Guard for five years. She spends one weekend a month with the 133rd Engineer Battalion’s Forward Support Company in Brunswick.

“Once I put my military uniform on, that is what takes precedence over my life,” Gray insisted. “I know the military comes first, and it always will.”

On a typical drill weekend, Gray and her fellow Soldiers conduct bulk transfers for different units throughout the state, including dropping off anywhere between 200-1000 gallons of fuel to help support other units.

She also performs preventative maintenance checks and services on vehicles, conducts driver and load handling system training, does flat rack loading and unloading, and participates in convoy operations and battle drills.

“It’s a lot of hands-on work,” she admitted. “We’re normally out servicing the vehicles to ensure they’re up to standard, and we make sure everyone is proficient in operating the equipment.”

Gray joined the National Guard to help pay for college. In the civilian world, she worked as a waitress while attending the University of Maine in Orono. She balanced a full course load with both jobs and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

The inspiration for Gray to enter the pageant world was Deshauna Barber, the 2016 Miss USA title holder who earned the distinction of being the first Army service member to compete and win the contest.

“Pageantry was never something I imagined myself doing,” Gray said, “but I think this is going to take me exactly where I want to go with my career, and I’m super-excited about it.”

There’s a lot of media interaction involved in pageantry, she noted, which translates to a wealth of networking opportunities for anyone carrying the Miss Maine title.

It took about three months for Gray to prepare for the pageant. She described it as an “every-free-moment” commitment with requirements ranging from confidently walking in various types of high heels to stage hair and makeup tricks.

“A big teaching point was having confidence in your looks. I was always afraid that physical beauty could easily overtake who you are as a person. I now understand that’s not true,” Gray said. “You can be both. You can take charge of your beauty and refuse to let it label you. Nobody should ever be ashamed of feeling beautiful.”

Gray said she received a lot of help from fellow pageant competitors. She discovered that many women entered in the contest had overcome adversities of their own.

“It’s really worth it to get to know the women you’re competing with because they can be really amazing for the most part,” she said. “The pageant system is a platform for them to share their stories and get other women to feel confident with who they are.”

The notion of competing on the national stage and represent Maine has become a source of great excitement for the Soldier. “I’m thankful for the opportunity as a whole,” she said. “It’s honestly an amazing community of people.”

What the title will allow her to do in the way of hopefully inspiring other young women who have recently joined the military, or are seriously considering doing so, is also a notion about which Gray expresses much excitement. She insisted they can still be as feminine as they want and not be afraid of what other people think. Additionally, they should be fearless in going after whatever goal or profession they want, even in a male-dominated career field.

“Ultimately, that’s the bottom line message here,” Gray summarized. “I can tell you it’s extremely overwhelming to have people tell me they are inspired by my story. At that same time, though, it’s motivating me to continue this journey of sharing and helping other people.”  (Miss USA)


5 Things You Didn’t Know About The 2018 Miss USA Show

1. The 2018 Miss USA Show is the 20th Anniversary of the competition’s first appearance in the sister cities of Shreveport-Bossier.

2. Host, Vanessa Lachey, was a former Miss Teen USA 1998 who was crowned in Shreveport-Bossier.

3. Host, Nick Lachey, performed with his boy band 98° at the Miss Teen USA 2000 Show.

4. This year’s show will air LIVE on a Monday.

5. Both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contestants will compete for their crown in Shreveport-Bossier this May!

Source | Miss USA

The 2018 MISS USA® Competition will be held at The Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana.

This year’s MISS USA® show marks the 20th anniversary of the competition’s first appearance in the sister cities of Shreveport-Bossier. Offering cultural arts and entertainment sites, world-class outdoor sporting events, historic landmarks, festivals, and more, Shreveport-Bossier provides visitors an endless variety of opportunities to enjoy. 

20 years ago, Shawnae Jebbia from Massachusetts was crowned Miss USA 1998 in 
Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana

This year’s host include Vanessa and Nick Lachey.  

The two-hour special will conclude with the reigning Miss USA 2017 Kára McCullough crowning her successor. Women representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia will compete for the opportunity of becoming the next Miss USA.  (MissUSA.COM) 

Meet the gorgeous Lauren Weaver ” Miss Arkansas USA 2018 “


Lauren Weaver



Born in Arkansas, and raised in the city of Greenwood, Lauren loves calling the Natural State her home. Lauren is part of a large blended family. She has three half sisters, one half brother and two stepbrothers. She refers to her family as her best friends and biggest fans.

Lauren attends the University of Arkansas, where she will graduate in May 2018 with Bachelor’s in Business Marketing. She is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority. Lauren is most proud of the balance she maintained with school and community. While being very involved on campus and around her state, she has been on the University of Arkansas’ Dean’s list every year. 

Lauren works as a model and has worked with brands such as Sherri Hill, Tony Bowls, Lauren James, Sam’s Club and Dillards just to name a few. Lauren also is the marketing intern for a clothing line based in Fayetteville, Arkansas

In her free time, Lauren enjoys bicycling, skydiving, hiking, exercising, anything involving the water and spending time with her family and dog, Kane.

As the daughter of an eight-year breast cancer survivor, Lauren is actively involved with Susan G. Komen of Arkansas. Lauren’s mother’s diagnosis at a young age has been the driving force behind her passion to spread awareness and educate young women on the importance of early detection.

Throughout her reign, Lauren wants to empower young women around Arkansas to get fit by healthy eating and exercising, and to become more civic-minded by giving back to their community.


Lauren is honored to represent Arkansas. She is looking forward to preparing for the Miss USA pageant. It has been a dream of hers for many years!

Photo | Georgina Vaughan Photography 

Miss South Carolina USA 2018 👑 Tori Sizemore

Tori Sizemore is a 22-year-old native to the upstate of South Carolina. She is a graduate of Anderson University and studied Public Relations and Marketing. Currently, Tori works at Crawford Strategy, a marketing agency in Greenville, SC, also making time to work as a model and brand spokeswoman; she represents Nissan of Orangeburg and Island Chrysler in television and radio advertising across the Midlands and Lowcountry. In her free time, Tori enjoys horseback riding, swing dancing, singing, and hiking.

She is an advocate for Foster Care and Adoption, a passion inspired by her own family’s adoption of three little girls – making her the oldest of 7 children. Her work as an adoption advocate resulted in a nomination in 2013 where she was recognized by Congressman Jeff Duncan as South Carolina’s “Angle in Adoption,” an award presented by The Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.

Previously, Tori served as Miss South Carolina Teen USA and was honored to place 1st Runner-up at the national Miss Teen USA pageant.

As the newly crowned Miss South Carolina USA 2018, she is eager to resume her advocacy for the children of South Carolina as a speaker and resource to raise awareness and encourage families to help children find a forever home.   💕💕💕

Hair/Photo: @chaschas @youniquebeauty   Makeup: @heathergeer