Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Man of Honor

If you have seen the film, Men of Honor starring Cuba Gooding Jr, then you most likely know who Carl Brashear is.

I have only just read that he has passed away. His life was one of great importance to us all because he fought to simply be equal and do the very best that he was capable of. He was a man to admire and respect.

I am sorry I never had the chance to meet Master Chief Brashear himself. It would have been quite an honor.

This following is a partial post copied from Wavy.com. Read the full story there listed under, Top stories, Military News section.

A funeral for retired Master Chief Carl Brashear will be conducted at 1 PM Saturday at Little Creek Amphibious Base Chapel with Elder Conley White officiating. He will then be laid to rest at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens.

Brashear, whose accomplishments and feats were chronicled in the film "Men of Honor", died Tuesday at Naval Medical Center. Portsmouth at the age of 75.

Carl Brashear, the first African-American Navy Diver, died today at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. He was 75 years-old.

A spokesperson for the hospital said he died at 2:35 PM of respiratory and heart failure.

Master Chief Brashear joined the Navy in 1948 at age 17. He was the first black deep sea diver, first black master diver and first person in naval history to be restored to full active duty as an amputee.

He held the position of Master Diver in the US Navy from 1975 to 77. His son, Chief Warrent Officer Phillip Brashear, who is a helicopter pilot in the Army, was here on emergency leave from Iraq to be with his father.

According to his official Navy biography, Carl Maxie Brashear was born on January 19, 1931 was the first African-American to become a United States Navy diver, in the early 1950s. On January 17, 1966, he suffered an accident while on duty, which left him without a leg. After a long struggle, he became the first amputee to be certified as a diver, in April 1968.

He was born in Tonieville, Larue County, Kentucky (USA). Brashear retired from the U.S. Navy in 1979 as a Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9) and Master Diver. He then served as a civilian employee for the government and retired in 1993 with the grade of GS-11.

No memorial arrangements have yet been announced.

A history on the Website of the U.S. Naval Institute follows:

Brashear grew up on a farm in Kentucky as part of sharecropper's family.

After being educated in small segregated schools, he enlisted in the Navy in 1948 and underwent recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois.

After initial duty as a steward, he began handling aircraft for squadron VX-1 at Key West, Florida, and was subsequently rated as a boatswain's mate.

He served in the escort carriers Palau (CVE-122) and Tripoli (CVE-64) and began taking training in salvage diving. Other duties were in USS Opportune (ARS-41); Naval Air Station Quonset Point, where he escorted President Dwight Eisenhower; Ship Repair Facility Guam; Deep-Sea Diving School; the submarine tender Nereus (AS-17), and Fleet Training Center Pearl Harbor.

He also had temporary duty with Joint Task Force Eight for nuclear tests in the Pacific.

He served in the USS Coucal (ASR-8), USS Shakori (ATF-162), and USS Hoist (ARS-40).

While on board the latter in 1966 for the recovery of a nuclear weapon off Spain, Brashear was badly injured in an accident; as a result, surgeons amputated his left leg below the knee. He refused to submit to medical survey boards attempting to retire him as unfit for duty.

After demonstrating that he could still dive and perform his other duties, he served in Harbor Clearance Unit 2, Naval Air Station Norfolk, Experimental Diving Unit, submarine tender Hunley (AS-31); USS Recovery (ARS-43), Naval Safety Center, and Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity Norfolk.

In 1970 he qualified as the first black master diver in the history of the U.S. Navy.

No memorial arrangements have yet been announced.

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