Born January 19, 1931
, the sixth son
of a Kentucky sharecropper
, Carl Maxie Brashear joined the Navy
in 1948. After initial training as a steward
, he managed to convince the Navy - with hundreds of letters, to train him as a diver
In 1966, while serving as a diver aboard the USS Hoist, Brashear was part of the task force under Admiral Guest which was searching for a nuclear bomb that had been lost at sea after a midair B-52 collision. After recovering the bomb, a shipboard accident caused a pipe to be pulled across the deck, striking and nearly severing Brashear's leg just below the knee.
His leg all but unsalvageable, it was amputated at Brashear's request - he believed he could dive as an amputee, but not with a crippled leg. While recuperating, he made several illicit forays to the diving school in Portsmouth, VA, then wrote his orders transferring himself to the second-class diving school. Avoiding physical evaluation boards as long as possible while proving he was capable of diving, Brashear finally convinced the establishment - after more than a year - to return him to full duty. He was the first naval amputee diver.
In 1970, Carl Brashear made Master Diver, and was the first black to do so in the history of the US Navy, and achieved his other goal, Master Chief Boatswain's Mate, in 1971. His life is the subject of the movie Men of Honor.
Good Conduct Medal(eight awards)
Navy Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
National Defense Service Medal
China Service Medal
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Occupation Service Medal