Rock Island Arsenal honors Black History Month and keeps first African American U.S Navy Diver legacy alive

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois-- It's a story about motivation and perseverance.

This is what Chief Warrant Officer 4 Phillip Brashear said to many who gathered at the Rock Island Arsenal in honor of National African American History Month Observance.

His father, Carl Brashear, was the first African American Master Diver for the U.S Navy.

Brashear's father battled through many obstacles during his time in the Navy but his perseverance to overcome them came on top.

"The five things my father overcame was racism, poverty, illiteracy, physical disability, and drug and alcoholism. He was able to achieve. Those are five that are still affecting every country in the world today, and for a person to overcome those obstacles and achieve greatness, I think its motivational," said Chief Brashear.

During his time in the Navy, Brashear's father lost his leg during a bomb recovery. A pipe used to lift a bomb out of the water struck his left leg just below the knee. He was taken to a naval hospital and to avoid infection his leg was amputated.

For his help in recovering the bomb his father received the highest Navy award for non-combat heroism...the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

"I want to keep his legacy alive and for [people] to know that this was a real man that actually lived and endured what he did," says Brashear.

But even after his leg was amputated, his time in the Navy didn't come to an end.

After an extensive recovery and endless determination in 1968 he became the first amputee diver to be re-certified into the U.S Navy.

"If life gives you lemons make lemonade always perservere to achieve, thats what we're here for, thats what makes us the greatest country in the world," says Brashear.

In 2006 Carl Brashear passed away from respiratory and heart failure.

Carl Brashear's life struggles and triumphs inspired the movie Men of Honor with Cuba Gooding Jr. playing the role of Brashear.

Brashear says he will continue to speak his fathers message and continue to share his legacy.

"There's nothing you can't achieve," says Brashear.