Radcliff Veteran Center to be renamed after Navy trailblazer

Radcliff Veteran Center to be renamed after Navy trailblazer
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Kentucky native, highlighted and honored in the popular 2000 film Men of Honor is receiving yet another honor later this week.

Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first African American diver in the U-S Navy, grew up near Elizabethtown and passed away in 2006.

Two years ago, our Melissa Swan first brought you the efforts to name a veteran’s center in Radcliff after Brashear. Now, on Thursday, November 9, that dream is coming true. It is a state of the art, $40 million facility that will take care of the men and women who have taken care of us, and it will bear the name "The Carl M. Brashear Radcliff Veterans Center.” His family tells WHAS11, there is not one person who is more deserving.

“My dad always had a smile on his face, he always faced adversity and championed over it and that should be a lesson for all of us, never give in,” Phillip, Carl's son, said. Phillip added that his father had a relentless will to serve his country and love his fellow man. 

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Phillip’s older brother Dawayne told WHAS11, “My dad always touted having a great attitude and frame of mind, no matter what your circumstances were."  

After losing his left leg during a bomb recovery mission in 1966, Carl Brashear had no plans of giving up. He made history as the first black person to become a U.S. Navy Master Diver four years after his leg amputation.

“During his free time after he retired from the service, he would visit veterans, but for this to be a veteran’s place, taking care of his brothers and sisters in arms, it's just awesome,” Phillip said.

Carl's determination, superseded the trials he had to face, battling racism, poverty and being disabled. So, his sons said it's very fitting that this veteran's center will hold his name forever.

“With my father begin the reluctant hero that he has been, would really be humbled as well as honored and gracious, and it's just a testament to how transcendent his legacy has been,” Dawayne said.

The campus houses a 120-bed nursing facility with private suites and baths, funded with state and federal dollars.

Carl's name is also on a U.S. Navy Ship in San Diego and his accolades are still stunning his loved ones. “He is deserving of it though,” Carl’s son Patrick said through tears.

Robert Casher, with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, is the organizer that spear-headed the 6,000 plus names on a petition for the naming to happen more than two years ago.

"I said, you know what, it would be great to have it named after Carl Brashear, a Kentucky native who was an inspiration to all of us,” Casher said,

The Navy sailor believed it's not a sin to get knocked down, it's a sin to stay down.

Tim, Carl’s nephew adds, “Always be your best and he said, things will happen for you, you may not see them today, but things will happen for you."

To donate or learn more about Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear head to www.carlbrasher.org.