Carl Brashear poster

Carl Brashear will speak at JLab's Black History Month event on Wednesday, February 19 at 2p.m.

Navy legend Carl Brashear speaks at JLab's Black History Month event

U.S. Naval legend Carl Brashear will be at Jefferson Lab on Wednesday, February 19, as the Lab's guest speaker for Black History Month

Directions to the Lab

  • Enter through Onnes Dr. from Jefferson Ave.
  • Anyone 16 or older must show picture ID
  • Vehicles & hand carried items are subject to inspection
  • All visitors must sign visitors' book when entering CEBAF Center

During his pioneering naval career, Brashear earned the distinction of becoming the first black deep-sea diver, the first black Master Diver, and the first person in naval history to be restored to full active duty as an amputee. Twentieth Century Fox produced a motion picture based on Brashear's life, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., that was released in the fall of 2000.

While on board the USS Hoist 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 continued serving and in 1970 he qualified as the first black master diver in the history of the U.S. Navy.

During his naval career, Brashear served on President Eisenhower's staff as Aquatic Escort, served on an aircraft carrier during the Korean War, and held assignments in submarine rescue and on salvage ships. For his singular achievements, Brashear earned the Navy/Marine Corps Medal, and was named a "Naval Tradition Maker" before retiring from the Navy as a Master Chief Petty Officer and Master Diver in 1979.

He began a civil service career in 1982 as an engineering specialist and he retired in 1993 as an environmental protection specialist. During his civil service tenure, Brashear earned the second highest Civil Service award — the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

The man is a motivational and inspirational speaker with an indomitable spirit. He has been featured on numerous television programs and interviewed for a variety of publications. Brashear was the sixth of nine children born to rural Kentucky sharecroppers. He attended a small, segregated one-room schoolhouse where he completed seven grades. He later earned a GED and continued his education.

Brashear will speak about his life and career from 2-3 p.m. in the CEBAF Center auditorium located at 12000 Jefferson Ave., Newport News. The public is invited to this free event. The presentation will last about one hour with a question and answer period at the end. For security purposes, everyone over 16 is asked to carry a photo I.D., and security guards may perform vehicle checks.