Stolen from Randy cassingham's site:
Carl M. Brashear.
In 1948, when Brashear was 17, President Harry Truman ordered the U.S. military to desegregate. Brashear, who was black, joined the Navy -- and was assigned to a ship's mess hall. In 1950 he applied for schooling to become a salvage diver, but was ignored until 1954, when the Navy relented and allowed him to attend. Despite racist remarks and death threats, became the Navy's first black deep sea diver, working underwater to salvage ships, planes and weaponry. In 1966, he was assigned to recover a hydrogen bomb dropped into the Mediterranean Sea when two Air Force planes collided. During the dive, which he was supervising from the surface, there was an accident on the ship; Brashear shoved another diver out of the way, but Brashear's leg was severely injured and, later, amputated below his knee. The Navy suggested he retire, but instead Brashear made a grueling comeback and returned to service, and in 1970 became the Navy's first black master diver.
He retired in 1979 with the rank of master chief petty officer. In 2000, he was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the film "Men of Honor". Brashear died July 25 from respiratory and heart problems. He was 75.