Carl Brashear’s son Phillip leads the foundation that continues his father’s legacy, inspiring generations of people to overcome their challenges.
Phillip, tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m Phillip M. Brashear and I’m a government employee with the Defense Logistics Agency. I’m also a Command Chief Warrant Officer with the 80th Training Command and a helicopter pilot in the United States Army Reserve at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Four. I also serve as the president of the Carl Brashear Foundation in honour of my late father, BMCM and Master Diver Carl M. Brashear. I’m married to Sandra and we have four children, three daughters and a son.
What is the Carl Brashear Foundation?
The Carl Brashear Foundation is a U.S.-based non-profit organisation set up to expose the incredible life of Carl Brashear and to continue his extraordinary legacy for future generations. We’ve donated thousands of dollars to veterans’ hospitals in the hope of rehabilitating the lives of wounded service members across the country.
And tell us about Carl Brashear…
My dad was born into a sharecropper’s family in rural Kentucky. He always wanted to make a different life for himself, but he was poor and faced widespread racism. In 1948, with very limited formal education, he joined the U.S. Navy where he set his heart on becoming a Navy diver. Despite his short-comings and racial prejudice from the Navy, in 1954 he became the first African American Navy diver. In 1966, he suffered the loss of the lower portion of his left leg during a critical mission off the coast of Spain. The Navy wanted to retire him because of his disability, but he fought to remain on active duty and became the first amputee diver to continue service, an unprecedented feat at the time. He retired in 1979.
He’s known as a ‘Man of Honour’. Why?
Carl Brashear endured ‘Five Great Hurdles’ during his life. He overcame racism, poverty, illiteracy, physical disability, and before he retired, he committed himself to the Navy’s alcohol abuse course for help with alcoholism. Today he is one of the most celebrated American military heroes.
How is the Carl Brashear foundation bringing Change for the Better?
Through the foundation, we’ve been able to share my dad’s example to never give up. His impact on our society has forced many establishments to abandon their ways of the past when it comes to racism and other social barriers. More minorities have excelled in all kinds of career fields because of him. America is better because of Carl Brashear.
How did the Oris partnership come about?
In 2015, Rolf, Oris’s co-CEO, contacted me about creating a watch in dad’s honour. It was the start of a great relationship. My wife and family have become part of the Oris family.
How has it helped the foundation?
It’s exposed my father’s legacy to people who may have never heard of him. Not everyone saw the movie, Men of Honor! Because of Oris, people from all over the world have got in touch to help the foundation and its cause, and to learn more about my dad.
What challenges does the foundation face in these uncertain times?
There are always monetary struggles. And there are so many people out there that have been affected by wars and armed conflicts. So many people suffer at the hands of others. It is almost impossible to reach out to everyone, but we will continue to push my dad’s message of hope.
How will this new Oris watch help?
This watch will again expose my father’s message of hope and resiliency. This world seems so angry and my father’s legacy will again be in the spotlight so that people may learn from him. Hopefully, many will see that despite our various backgrounds we are all part of the Human Race and we must find ways to live together with respect and dignity.
What do you think of the watch?
I think it is just beautiful. What a great honour for a world hero.
How can Oris fans get involved in the foundation’s activities?
Please visit the website carlbrashear.org and read all about this incredible man and the life he lived. First and foremost, remember that all things in life can be achieved with hard work and a belief in yourself. There are no mountains that cannot be conquered!