Carl Brashear
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Carl Brashear

Men of Honor

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About Him

Grew Up… on sharecropping farm in Kentucky. Carl dropped out of school in the seventh grade in order to help his family of farmers, though it was never his dream to be stuck on a farm forever.

Living… in Bayonne, New Jersey, where is attending the U.S. Navy’s Diving and Salvage School. After being inspired by Master Chief Petty Officer Billy Sunday’s heroics in the South Pacific, Carl has decided to dedicate his life to diving.

Profession… Naval diving student in the midst of intensive training. In the late 1940s, the U.S. Navy is not exactly the most inclusive organization. As an African-American, Carl is facing twice the hardship that a white recruit would – or more. In fact, the commanding officer at the school goes out of his way sabotage Carl.

Relationship Status… falling for an aspiring doctor named Jo. The educated Jo, who works part time at a library in Harlem, is helping Carl through his intensive training.

Challenge… becoming the Navy’s first African-American master diver. A career in the Navy is tough enough, but Carl is facing unheard of obstacles and unspeakable abuse. He sees this hardship as more than worth it. As he tells his superior officer, “Forgive me sir, but the Navy isn’t a business. It’s an organization of people who represent the finest aspects of our nation.”

Personality… determined, strong, and persistent. Carl wants to become a diver so badly “because they said I couldn’t have it.” He’s out to conquer the bigotry that stands against him and prove everybody wrong.

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