Pioneering Navy Diver Carl Brashear Dies at 75

In 2001, Carl Brashear attended a ceremony related to the film 'Men of Honor'. i i

In 2001, Carl Brashear attended a ceremony related to the film Men of Honor aboard the USS Bunker Hill. David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images
In 2001, Carl Brashear attended a ceremony related to the film 'Men of Honor'.

In 2001, Carl Brashear attended a ceremony related to the film Men of Honor aboard the USS Bunker Hill.

David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Carl M. Brashear, the first black U.S. Navy diver, has died at 75. Brashear's story about battling racism in the newly desegregated U.S. military of the late 1940s was told in the 2000 film Men of Honor. Brashear was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.

After more than 30 years of service, Brashear retired from the Navy in 1979. He is also the first Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee — he lost his leg during the salvage operation of a hydrogen bomb in 1966.

Brashear died of heart failure at a Navy Medical Center in Portsmouth Virginia. NPR's Michele Norris talks with retired Navy Capt. Hattie Elam. Elam and Brashear were married for four years.

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