Resting In Peace In Virginia

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Carlos Norman Hathcock is considered the greatest Marine Corps sniper in the history of the Marine Corps, with 93 confirmed kills, over 300 probable kills, and many more enemy WIA’s.

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He was born on May 20, 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas and died on February 28, 1999 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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Hathcock’s record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the Marine Corps. His fame as a sniper and his dedication to long-distance shooting led him to become a major developer of the United States Marine Corps Sniper training program. He was honored by having a rifle named after him: a variant of the M21 dubbed the Springfield Armory M25 White Feather.

Resting about 50 yards from Gunnery Sergeant Hathcock is Master Chief Petty Officer and Master Diver Carl Brashear.

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Brashear enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 25, 1948, shortly after the Navy had been desegregated by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. He graduated from the U.S. Navy Diving & Salvage School in 1954, becoming the first African-American to attend and graduate from the Diving & Salvage School and the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver.

While attending diving school in Bayonne, New Jersey, Brashear faced hostility and racism. He found notes on his bunk saying, “We’re going to drown you today, nigger!” and “We don’t want any nigger divers.” Brashear received encouragement to finish from First Class Boatswain’s Mate Rutherford, and graduated 16 out of 17.

Brashear first did work as a diver retrieving approximately 16,000 rounds of ammunition that fell off a barge which had broken in half and sunk to the bottom. On his first tour of shore duty in Quonset Point, Rhode Island his duties included the salvaging of airplanes, including one Blue Angel and recovering multiple dead bodies.

Brashear received an Outstanding Public Service Award in October 2000 from actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. and then-Defense Secretary William Cohen for 42 years of combined military and federal civilian service. Gooding portrayed Brashear in the 2000 film Men of Honor.

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In January 1966, in an accident now known as the Palomares incident, a B28 nuclear bomb was lost off the coast of Palomares, Spain after two United States Air Force aircraft of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), a B-52G Stratofortress bomber and a KC-135A Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft collided during aerial refueling. Brashear was serving aboard the USS Hoist (ARS-40) when it was dispatched to find and recover the missing bomb for the Air Force. The warhead was found after two and a half months of searching. For his service in helping to retrieve the bomb, Brashear was later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal – the highest Navy award for non-combat heroism.

During the bomb recovery operations on March 23, 1966, a line used for towing broke loose, causing a pipe to strike Brashear’s left leg below the knee, nearly shearing it off. He was evacuated to Torrejon Air Base in Spain, then to the USAF Hospital at Wiesbaden Air Base, Germany; and finally to the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. Beset with persistent infection and necrosis, his left leg was eventually amputated.

Brashear remained at the Naval Regional Medical Center in Portsmouth from May 1966 until March 1967 recovering and rehabilitating from the amputation. From March 1967 to March 1968, Brashear was assigned to the Harbor Clearance Unit Two, Diving School, preparing for return to full active duty and diving. In April 1968, after a long struggle, Brashear was the first amputee diver to be (re)certified as a U.S. Navy diver. In 1970, he became the first African-American U.S. Navy Master Diver, and served ten more years beyond that, achieving the rating of Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate in 1971. Brashear was motivated by his beliefs that “It’s not a sin to get knocked down; it’s a sin to stay down” and “I ain’t going to let nobody steal my dream”. – Wikipedia

Both Hathcock and Brashear are buried at The Woodlawn Memorial Gardens located at 6309 E. Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA. Brashear is located along the edge of the sidewalk that leads to the giant star structure in the center of the “Avenue of History” section. Hathcock is in the same section, towards the right corner of the section from Brashear’s location.

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