Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Carl Brashear


Carl Brashear was the first African American Master Diver in the U.S. Navy, despite a crippling injury.

He was born in Tonneyville, Kentucky on January 19, 1931 to a sharecropper family and raised in Sonora, Kentucky. Master Chief Brashear joined the Navy in February 1948 at the age of 17.

Confined to the galley, like most Blacks and Filipinos of the era, Master Chief Brashear decided to make deep-sea diving his profession which was unheard of for a Black American sailor at the time.

He was admitted to the Navy Dive School and overcame a seventh grade education to have a notable career as a navy diver. In 1966, he was badly injured in an accident during the recovery of a nuclear warhead in the Mediterranean. Surgeons had to amputate his left leg below his knee. Master Chief Brashear refused to submit to medical survey boards in an attempt to retire him as unfit for duty. He demonstrated that he could still dive and perform other duties. In 1970, Master Chief Carl Brashear qualified as the first Black master diver in the history of the U.S. Navy.

In 1998, he became one of only seven enlisted men to be enshrined in the naval archives.

Men of Honor is a 2000 drama film, starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding, Jr. The film was directed by George Tillman, Jr. It is inspired by the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first black-American master diver in the United States Navy.

Brashear died of respiratory and heart failure at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia on July 25, 2006