Radcliff Veterans Center soon will be renamed after a man who broke the color barrier in one of the most intransigent communities of the U.S. Navy: deep-sea diving.
The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs announced Radcliff Veterans Center — the state’s newest veterans home — will be named for Master Chief/Master Diver Carl M. Brashear.
Brashear, a native of Sonora, rose from poverty and became the first black master deep-sea diver in the U.S. Navy. He later fought to continue his undersea career after he became an amputee.
To his legacy, Brashear was the only amputee deep-sea diver to reach the status of master diver. Brashear retired from the Navy in 1979, after more than 30 years of service.
The Carl M. Brashear Foundation’s Special Relations and Development Officer Tony Palm said Brashear was an extraordinary American and role model, who followed the mantra “It is not a sin to get knocked down, but it is a sin to stay down.”
“He inspired many people,” Palm said.
Mark Bowman, executive director of Kentucky Veterans Centers, said the state veterans affairs department, after considering all input, felt it appropriate to recognize the Kentucky native, who achieved things most would only dream of achieving, overcoming several adverse circumstances and obstacles. Bowman said the veterans center will honor Brashear’s legacy.
Palm said Brashear was a man of honor, with unbelievable dedication and courage.
“Carl Brashear never allowed discrimination or a physical handicap to keep him from his dream,” he said.
Brashear died July 25, 2006, at 75.
He was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 2000 movie “Men of Honor,” which also starred Robert De Niro.
To commemorate the name change, there will be a dedication ceremony of the Carl M. Brashear Radcliff Veterans Center tentatively set for 10 a.m. Nov. 9, which will feature Brashear family members and representatives of the Carl Brashear Foundation. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton have been invited.
One of the speakers is Phillip Brashear, founder and current president of the Carl M. Brashear Foundation and son of the Navy master diver.
In Phillip Brashear’s bio, it said he and his brother, Dawayne, launched the foundation to “use their father’s life as an example of how faith, strength, humility and dedication can show the world that racism, illiteracy, poverty, physical disability and substance abuse cannot defeat the human spirit. These were Carl Brashear’s ‘Five Hurdles’ that he overcame, to become one of the most celebrated American Navy divers in history.”
Phillip Brashear is a civilian employee of the Defense Logistics Agency as a U.S. Air Force team weapon system support manager for Defense Supply Center in Richmond, Virginia.
Palm said the Brashear family will have memorabilia of Carl Brashear at the ceremony, some of which will remain at the veterans center for viewing.
Palm said they also will have the Brashear Challenge Coin Initiative. The intention is to have a supply of coins on hand so when veterans are admitted to the facility, each will receive a coin.
Challenge coins today are a tangible source of pride for America’s warriors at every level in the chain of command, Palm said.
“They are a way to acknowledge excellent service and they have become a significant component of military life,” he said.
Palm will be in Hardin County on Oct. 10 and 11 to publicize the veterans center’s renaming and dedication. He plans to meet with local organizations such as the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce and the Sunset Rotary Club.
Palm, along with his title with the Brashear Foundation, is president of Tony Palm & Associates LLC. His personal mission is to “leave no warfighter behind, regardless of the battlefield.” He is a retired Navy chief petty officer/deep sea diver and recruiter.