During the mission Brashear was struck below his left knee by a pipe that the crew was using to hoist the bomb out of the water. Brashear was airlifted to a naval hospital where the bottom of his left leg was amputated to avoid gangrene. It later was replaced with a prosthetic leg.
The Navy was ready to retire Brashear from active duty, but he soon began a grueling training program that included diving, running and calisthenics.
“Sometimes I would come back from a run, and my artificial leg would have a puddle of blood from my stump,” Brashear said in 2002 when he was inducted into the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians. “I wouldn’t go to sick bay because they would have taken me out of the program.”
Brashear retired from the Navy in 1979 after more than 30 years of service. He was the first Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee.
On September 18, 2008, more than 3,000 people visited the Navy shipyard in San Diego, California, to witness history: The seventh Lewis and Clark class Auxiliary Dry Cargo/Ammunition ship was officially given the name of USNS Carl Brashear.
Lauren Brashear, eldest grand-daughter of the late Carl Brashear, christened the vessel by breaking a bottle of champagne across the ship’s bow. Academy Award winning Actor Robert DeNiro, along with other Hollywood notables from the movie “Men of Honor,” attended the ceremony.
“We thought that having a movie made about his life might be the pinnacle, but I think this has pretty much exceeded that,” DaWayne Brashear, Carl’s son, said during the 2008 ceremony.
“All my dad wanted was to do his duty, honor the Navy and be the best diver that he could possibly be,” Brashear said. “And I don't think in his wildest dreams he thought he would have this honor bestowed on him. But here we are.”
Carl Brashear U.S. Navy resume
Diving Heritage profile of Carl Brashear
Carl Brashear foundation
Men of Honor
USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7)