News: 511th Dive Detachment meets a Man of Honor
Story by Sgt. Edwin Rodriguez
FORT EUSTIS, Va. - Chief Warrant Officer Phillip Brashear, a UH-60 Weapon System Support manager at Defense logistics Agency in Richmond, Va., and Army Reserve helicopter pilot stationed in Fort Eustis, holds a laminated photo of his father, the first African-American Navy Master Diver, former Master Chief Carl Brashear, March 1 before speaking to Army divers from the 511th Dive Detachment, Special Troops Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade.
The photo shows one of Carl Brashear’s strength tests needed to be recertified as a Navy diver. In doing so, he became the first amputee to recertify as a diver. The movie "Men of Honor" starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr., tells the story of Carl Brashear’s life.
Phillip Brashear visited with the dive detachment to talk about his father’s legacy and how much he respects military divers.
“When we were growing up, my father never allowed us to use the words 'I can't,' in our house. We always had to try. If we failed, it was okay, as long as we tried," he said. "My father grew up poor, joined the Navy, got an education, and beat alcoholism. If my dad can beat that, then you have no excuse."
The film displayed Carl Brashear’s “never quit” attitude when after losing his lower left leg in a diving accident in 1966, he returned to duty two years later to recertify. Phillip Brashear shared with the Army divers some of the principles his dad left behind before his passing July 2006.
“There were three things he shared with me that I will tell you all. To be a viable citizen in our society, you have to work hard and never quit. Two, get an education and never stop learning. Three, believe in something greater than yourself,” said Phillip Brashear. “You can’t live life thinking you are the center of the universe. There are bigger things in life than one person.”
Carl Brashear was trained at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., in 1954. The equipment may have changed but the discipline needed to accomplish it seems to be just as tough. After basic training, Army divers begin their schooling at the bottom of recreational pools on Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The two-week phase I course puts divers through an intense routine, at the end of the course where instructors will only allow a small group to move on to phase II at the Panama City location. Waiting for them in Florida are 130 days of entry-level diving techniques that test their skills beyond practical underwater diving. At the end of the course, they will be indoctrinated as divers like the legendary Carl Brashear. Philip Brashear made sure that he told the 511th Dive Det. how much it meant for him to be there.
“Let me tell you something, you guys do what my father did, and I love you for it. It takes a special breed of person to do what you do, and I thank you,” said Phillip Brashear.