#BlackHistoryMonth: Profiles in U.S. Navy Leadership

As the Navy joins our nation in the observance of African-American/Black History Month, Navy Live is sharing profiles in U.S. Navy leadership – both past and present.

Visit this blog each day as we post a new profile – showcasing how the diversity of our people strengthens our Navy and reflects the nation we serve. You can also visit Naval History and Heritage Command’s website for stories of how the diversity of ideas, experiences, background and expertise has enabled us to operate successfully around the globe.


Cmdr. Walt Mainor
Commanding Officer, USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110)

MainorHow did you decide to join the Navy?

There were several factors that led me to join the Navy. I wanted to serve my country and pay for college on my own. I also had two older brothers that had joined the navy before me and that help influence my decision.

Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

I have had several role models and mentors that have helped guide me in my navy career. I try to take something from both enlisted and officer alike and apply it to make me a better person and officer.

Can you share a story about someone, perhaps someone in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than perhaps even you ever thought you might.

The biggest influence in my life has always been my parents and Grandmother. My mother has always been my biggest role model. She always stressed the importance of education and hard work. She taught me that life will present you with challenges and adversity. It’s how you react and overcome those challenges that makes and shapes you as a person.

Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?

Each assignment has been unique and rewarding in its own way. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed all my assignments. Having early command of USS Patriot (MCM 7) and command now continue to impress upon me  that our sailors truly are our most important asset. 

USS Patriot(Mainor)

What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

Being a leader to me means being humble. Never forgetting that you work and serve a cause bigger and greater than yourself.


FORCM (AW/SW) Clarence “CJ” Mitchell
Force Master Chief, Navy Reserve Force

FORCM Mitchell BiowebsmallHow did you decide to join the Navy?

Like many, I originally joined to Navy to get money to finish college. Navy life was love at first sight and I have stayed Navy because of the people, the opportunities, and pride I feel serving my country. And I did end up finishing my degree and moved on to get a Master’s and PhD all while serving in the world’s finest Navy.

Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

The first African-American Command Master Chief I ever knew was CMDCM (SW/FMF) Charlie Cook. He was my CMC when I was the Personnel Officer in USS Sides (FFG 14). He is still a mentor and role model for me. He was professional and kind with a calm demeanor and inspirational and motivating without being demanding. I never wanted to disappoint him and I try to be like him every day. 2171_1092369705364_913_n

Can you share a story about someone, perhaps someone in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than perhaps even you ever thought you might.

I would have to say my whole family has influenced me. I come from a family that, across generations, has focused on education and serving others. I have teachers, medical professionals and ministers in my family. Even my daughter currently serves in law enforcement as a police officer. My family also includes others that have served in uniform in USAF and USMC. My Uncle Daryl retired as CWO and served under former CJCS and CNO Mike Mullen. My great Uncle Rudolph Baskins retired after 20 years including years as a steward at the Naval Academy where as he tells it, he cooked for Roger Staubach in his home. I serve to honor my family.

Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?

I wish I could remember EVERY day as the Command Master Chief of USS Farragut (DDG 99). I think I remember most of them. I had the honor of being the CMC for a GREAT ship with an even better crew and taking them on their first 6th/5th Fleet deployment. It is so memorable for me because many Sailors on that crew continue to succeed. Sailors that I knew as Second Classes are making Chief Petty Officer, Lieutenants are making Commander and in the pipeline to be Commanding Officers and many Sailors still stay in touch. We preserved over so much – they are and forever will be like family. 1460002_519867191442627_1948780681_n What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

Because of the enduring nature of our mission, leading in the Navy means constant pursuit of improvement and developing Sailors to execute the mission. I know of no other leadership model, where the measurement of leaders’ success is measured by the success not by just of the mission accomplishment of the organization or unit but also the professional and personal success of personnel in the organization. This involves all components of leadership: teaching, inspiring, motivating, rewarding and accountability to a high standard – and simply put is training your relief.


FORCM (SW/AW) Andrew D. Thompson
Commander, Navy Installations Command

FMC ThompsonHow did you decide to join the Navy?

My parents were most influential in me joining the Navy. I grew up the oldest of seven kids and I can clearly recall my parents sitting me down and explaining that as the oldest, I had the responsibility to set a good example for my brothers and sisters to follow in life. They recommended I join one of the branches of the Armed Services. I took the conversation about setting a proper example for my brothers and sister to heart and over the years it has guided and shaped my career. In considering which service to join, I selected the Navy because I love the sea and thought it would be an adventure to visit places I had only previously read about.

Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

I’ve had many role models and mentors throughout my career but a few really exemplified the true meaning of being a leader. The first was CWO3 Melvin Scales who was my Division LCPO on board the USS SARATOGA (CV 60). While I was a young Machinist’s Mate, he taught me how to be a professional technician and a true leader. The second was MM1 Jerome Lawrence, my LPO on board the USS Coral Sea (CV 43). He entrusted me to be the “Turn-2 PO”. The Turn-2 PO was responsible for getting the work list completed and worked very closely with the Work Center Supervisor. My third role model was MMCM Lunslee Rogers; he was my LCPO on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CV 71). I watched him excel as a Machinist’s Mate and then become a Command Master Chief and he inspired me to become a CMC. I honestly believe that If not for the leadership and mentorship of these three superb leaders I would not have enjoyed such a successful career. IMG_1873

Can you share a story about someone, perhaps someone in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than perhaps even you ever thought you might.

My parents really challenged me throughout my career; they consistently reiterated to me that I was (am) solely responsible for my success and failures. When things were rough they were there to listen and provide sage advice and guidance. I was once considering getting out of the Navy and even took the New York City Police exam. Because I did well, they called me immediately. I can recall my parents sitting me down and saying “it’s not going to happen!” They knew I loved the Navy and challenged me to reconsider and make the most out of the opportunities the Navy had provided me. After serious consideration of my options I realized my parents were spot on and I have not looked back since. They also believe I should never get out of the Navy – if they had their way I would stay in the Navy for the rest of my life!

Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?

My most memorable assignments were the USS Coral Sea (CV 43), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CV 71), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), and the USS Enterprise (CV 65). The Coral Sea was my first command and set the foundation for the rest of my career. I advanced to Third Class Petty Officer on board that ship and it was the first time I was entrusted to be a leader. The Theodore Roosevelt was where I was selected for and advanced to Chief Petty Officer — that new responsibility was both joyful and scary at the same time: I could no longer reply “go ask the chief” because I WAS the Chief! I was expected to know all of the answers. I served the longest on the Enterprise and was also where I advanced to both Senior and Master Chief. Before departing Enterprise, I was also selected for CMC. The Fort McHenry was my first assignment as a CMC. That assignment truly challenged me and, coincidently, the ship had the same hull number as my first ship. IMG_0182What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

Being a leader in the Navy is not only a privilege but also an awesome responsibility. It means that in my hands rest the building blocks of our Navy of tomorrow. I honestly believe that our core values of Honor Courage and Commitment make me a better leader. I’ve also learned that as a leader if I apply our core values to my personal and professional life it not only makes me a better leader but also a better person.


Lt. Cmdr. Bobby R. Jones
Executive Officer, USS Anzio (CG 68)

Lt. Cmdr. Bobby R. Jones
Why did you decide to join the Navy?
My family has a long history of military service so that was a factor. But the most appealing aspect was its fairness. I was told by many veterans that your [skin] color doesn’t matter in the Navy – your performance does. The opportunity to be judged on my abilities jumped out at me as teenager. The chance to see the world was icing on the cake.

Who have your professional role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped guide your career?I have been blessed to have many senior officers take an interest in my development dating all the way back to [the U.S. Naval Academy at] Annapolis. From CAPTs Steve Seal (Ret) and Karen Frye (ret) to CAPTs Brad Lee, Shan Byrne, Hank Adams, Brent DeVore and Frank Castellano (my current CO). They all have a wide range of experiences, warfare qualifications, personalities and perspectives. I have tried to take something from each of them over the years and apply it in the execution of my duties today.

Please tell us about a close family member or relative who has influenced or challenged you to become who you are today.

My parents undoubtedly had the biggest influence in my life. They grew up going to segregated schools, however, they instilled the value of education in myself, my sister and my brother (a USAF Pilot). They constantly tell us not to be satisfied with the past; advance to the next milestone both personally and professionally.

Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why.

Each assignment has left a huge impression on my life, but I would say my first tour as a Deck Division officer on USS Germantown (LSD 42) is the most memorable. I was commissioned in May of 2001 and soon after I was onboard conducting Operation Enduring Freedom operations all over the Pacific. It quickly showed me how to approach demanding situations and I have taken those hard earned lessons with me.

What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

It seems everyone has a different definition of leadership; mine is pretty simple. Leadership to me is motivating people to achieve something they could not do on their own. It is taking a group of people and forging them into one unstoppable force. Those Sailors know you have their best interest in mind at all times. Its Sailors having confidence they will complete their mission because you are in charge. The Navy is not a job, it is a lifestyle. It takes a commitment that most people are not willing to make. To lead people that have made that commitment takes an extraordinary effort and an attention to detail that not everyone can accomplish.

Lt. Cmdr. Bobby Jones is a 2001 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and an experienced Surface Warfare officer. His assignments at sea include USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Normandy (CG 60). Shore assignments include recruiter for the U.S. Naval Academy and an individual augmentee as a United Nations Peacekeeper for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Jones is the recipient of various awards and citations to include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Commendation Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal. He also received his Masters Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies with an African Studies Concentration from the United States Naval War College. Jones is currently serving as the executive officer aboard USS Anzio (CG 68).


Rear Adm. Dwight Shepherd
Director, Cyberspace operations/J6 U.S. Northern Command/NORAD

Rear Adm. Dwight Shepherd How did you decide to join the Navy?

I met a Navy Recruiter (I will never forget him) at the University of Cincinnati and he talked to me about Naval Aviation and the opportunity to see the world. I had no family history of naval service. My Father and Grandfather both did short periods in the Army. After seeing the AOCS Video “Pressure Point” and being told it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I was motivated and determined to not only give it a try, but succeed.

Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

I’ve had a lot of mentors in my career, but the biggest influences came from VADM Andy Winns (Ret), Hon Buddie Penn (Acting SECNAV and Asst Secretary for Installations), CAPT Charles “Sneakers” Nesby (Ret), Hon Charlie Thompkins (Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Personnel), RADM Ken Deutsch (Ret) and soon to be “VADM” Kevin Scott (smile). You can’t be successful without mentors and mentorship.

Can you share a story about someone, perhaps someone in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than perhaps even you ever thought you might.

My Parents and Grandparents always pushed me to give my best effort and to work hard, always giving 100%. My Father taught me the value of giving my all, starting on the baseball fields of my youth and My Grandfather taught me about the value of your “word” (integrity). I owe them everything! image3

Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?

It’s hard to pick just one! My O5 Command, and commanding Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Three (VQ-3/Ironman) would certainly be at the top. Leading an aviation squadron; being responsible and accountable for the execution of the mission, that’s Naval Leadership! That tour was followed closely by my tour as the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Ray Mabus! I will never forget him or my time with him. I learned to think out of the box and to embrace change.

What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

Setting an example and influencing others to give their best and strive to be better. It’s about Country, Service, Self, in that order. Leadership is a high bar in the Navy.


Capt. Pete Tzomes

Capt. Pete Tzomes, born in 1944 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, decided to pursue a career in the United States Navy after viewing a presentation about the U.S. Naval Academy while in junior high school. Against his guidance counselor’s suggestion that a ‘Negro’ would never be accepted into the academy Tzomes applied, but was rejected the first time around. When he took the appointment exam a second time he was selected as an alternate and entered the academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1963. As blacks across America dealt with rampant oppression resulting in killings, riots and national hostility, Tzomes also faced prejudice during his time in the academy.

He was later told he was too short to become a pilot in the Marine Corps. He graduated in 1967 and was commissioned an ensign. Tzomes overcame the challenges and through hard work obtained a number of prominent positions. He was the second black service member accepted into the nuclear-power program, and the first on submarines. Tzomes entered the submarine field, and after 12 months of nuclear-power training and six months of submarine training, he reported to the “blue crew” of the ballistic missile submarine USS Will Rogers (SSBN 659) in February 1969. During a time when some white Sailors refused to salute black officers, Tzomes persevered and continued to over the next 14 years.

He was assigned to the pre-commissioning unit of the fast attack submarine USS Pintado (SSN 672). In December 1970, he served in division officer billets until completing his engineering officer qualification. In April 1973, Tzomes was assigned as engineering officer aboard USS Drum (SSN 672), where he served until August 1976. From September 1976 until September 1979, he was assigned to the nuclear propulsion examining board on the staff of then commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. In November 1979, he reported as executive officer aboard USS Cavalla (SSN 684), where he served for almost three years. While on his executive officer tour, Tzomes screened for a command position, hoping that a successful tour could lead to attending commanding officer nuclear training and eventually commanding his own submarine. It worked. In the spring of 1983 he reported for duty aboard USS Houston (SSN 713) in Norfolk, Virginia, as the first black commanding officer of a nuclear-powered submarine. Six months later, the submarine switched homeports to San Diego, where Tzomes received a hero’s welcome.

Following his command tour Tzomes was assigned as force operations officer on the staff of Commander Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor; director of the Equal Opportunity Division in the Bureau of Naval Personnel; advisor to the chief of Naval Personnel; and commanding officer of Recruit Training Command Great Lakes (boot camp). He retired from the Navy in 1994 after serving as assistant chief of staff for Operations and Inspector General. Tzomes was a member of the National Naval Officers Association—an organization that supports minority officers in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard—including two years as a regional vice president. He has also been involved with the Naval Submarine League, the U.S. Naval Institute, the United States Submarine Veterans and the Navy League. His military honors and decorations include the Legion of Merit (with two gold stars), the Meritorious Service Medal (with three gold stars), and the Navy Commendation Medal (with two gold stars) along with various unit and campaign ribbons.


Doris Miller

Doris MillerDoris Miller, known as “Dorie” to shipmates and friends, enlisting in the U.S Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class, at Dallas, Texas, on Sept. 16, 1939, to travel and earn money for his family. He later was commended by the Secretary of the Navy, was advanced to Mess Attendant, Second Class and First Class, and subsequently was promoted to Cook, Third Class.

Following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Va., Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro (AE 1) where he served as a Mess Attendant, and on Jan. 2, 1940 was transferred to USS West Virginia (BB 48), where he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion. In July of that year, he had temporary duty aboard USS Nevada (BB 36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School.

He returned to West Virginia and on August 3, and was serving in that battleship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded. He headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck. Because of his physical prowess, he was assigned to carry wounded fellow Sailors to places of greater safety.

Then an officer ordered him to the bridge to aid the mortally wounded captain of the ship. He subsequently manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship. During the attack, Japanese aircraft dropped two armored piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes into her port side. Heavily damaged by the ensuing explosions, and suffering from severe flooding below decks, the crew abandoned ship while West Virginia slowly settled to the harbor bottom. Of the 1,541 men on West Virginia during the attack, 130 were killed and 52 wounded. Subsequently refloated, repaired, and modernized, the battleship served in the Pacific theater through to the end of the war in August 1945.

Miller was commended by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942, and on May 27, 1942, he received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet personally presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV 6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. Speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked:

“This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I’m sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.”

On Dec. 13, 1941, Miller reported to USS Indianapolis (CA 35), and subsequently returned to the west coast of the United States in November 1942. Assigned to the newly constructed USS Liscome Bay (CVE 56) in the spring of 1943, Miller was on board that escort carrier during Operation Galvanic, the seizure of Makin and Tarawa Atolls in the Gilbert Islands. Liscome Bay’s aircraft supported operations ashore between Nov. 20-23, 1943. At 5:10 a.m. on November 24, while cruising near Butaritari Island, a single torpedo from Japanese submarine I-175 struck the escort carrier near the stern. The aircraft bomb magazine detonated a few moments later, sinking the warship within minutes.

Listed as missing following the loss of that escort carrier, Miller was officially presumed dead Nov. 25, 1944, a year and a day after the loss of Liscome Bay. Only 272 Sailors survived the sinking of Liscome Bay, while 646 died. In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller was entitled to the Purple Heart Medal; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal. Commissioned on June 30, 1973, USS Miller (FF 1091), a Knox-class frigate, was named in honor of Doris Miller.


Vice Adm. Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr.

Vice Adm. Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr.Vice Adm. Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr.had a distinguished 38-year naval career as a surface warfare officer and manager. There are several notable achievements to his credit including being the first African-American to command a combatant ship, to be promoted to flag rank, and to command a naval fleet. Gravely’s life and naval career, spanning from 1944 to 1982, also reflected the improved status of African-Americans in the Navy and in American society.

As a distinguished veteran of World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, his military service suggests several qualities that a successful leader should possess. The first attribute is simply “to be ready.” Gravely could not always determine when an opportunity would arise but he made sure that he had prepared himself to be able to respond to it. Obstacles must be turned into opportunities. For example, when the officers club prevented Gravely from entering, he used the time to complete Navy correspondence courses. The additional education and training helped him become a better officer.

Like any other Sailor, Gravely did not like every job the Navy gave him but he did his best in each of them. In that sense, Gravely believed that all jobs were good jobs because they were chances to excel. Regardless of the size of one’s command, lead with integrity, professionalism, and care. Gravely was a strategist as he faced more than a few challenges. Instead of being overwhelmed by them or focusing on them, he found creative ways to circumvent them or to accept them and he always strove to learn from his experiences. Gravely never sat on his laurels. He continued to learn and to expand his horizons.

His career also suggests that leaders must be realistic and optimistic. While Gravely understood the naval policies designed to limit African-Americans in the Navy, he did not let them limit or discourage him. Another important characteristic is having the right attitude, as well as the appropriate credentials. He believed that success and respect were not given to anyone; they had to be earned. Another attribute of leadership is perseverance. An effective leader has to be committed enough to the cause to focus on the goal. Despite the difficulties, Gravely enjoyed his naval service. This reminds leaders that it is important to know your job and to do it well but you should not forget to enjoy the work. An effective leader strives to make a positive difference for others and has a genuine concern for others.

Good leaders are not born; they are developed and one measure of their success is that they have trained others to be effective leaders. Finally, where one starts does not necessarily have to guarantee where he ends up. Instead of accepting the odds for failure, one can beat the odds by working and studying hard. Gravely began his career as a seaman apprentice at Great Lakes in 1942 and rose through the ranks to become a three star admiral.


FLTCM (AW/SW) April Beldo
Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education Fleet Master Chief

OKINAWA, Japan (May 21, 2014) Fleet Master Chief April Beldo speaks with Sailors after an all-hands call at Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan. Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) Vice Adm. Bill Moran and Beldo fielded questions and discussed topics such as petty officer advancement, uniform matters and the Enlisted Early Transition Program. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kim Martinez/Released) Fleet Master Chief Beldo has served as the Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education (MPT&E) fleet master chief since March 2013. In May 1983, she completed basic training at Recruit Training Center, Orlando, Fla., and later reported to the Checkertails of Composite Squadron Five (VC-5) at Naval Air Station Cubi Point, Philippine Islands.

While with the Checkertails, she was detailed to attend Aviation Maintenance Administrationman “A” School in Meridian, Miss., returning to the squadron after graduation. Follow on tours include: Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW-110) at NAS Miramar, Calif.; Patrol Squadron 11 (VP-11) at NAS Brunswick, Maine; Naval Hospital Corpus Christi, Texas; and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6 (HS-6) at NAS North Island, Calif.

While she was with HS-6, she deployed aboard the aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS Kitty Hawk (CVN 63). She also has served at Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL) with their Aviation Maintenance Management Teams (AMMT), and aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) in Norfolk, Va.

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (May 23, 2013) Fleet Master Chief April Beldo addresses USS Constitution crew members on the ship's spar deck during a visit to 'Old Ironsides'. (U.S. Navy photo by Sonar Technician (Submarine) 2nd Class Thomas Rooney/Released) In December 2002, Master Chief Beldo was selected into the Command Master Chief Program and graduated as honor student of her Senior Enlisted Academy class. She then reported as command master chief aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) from May 2003 to December 2005.

After completing Recruit Division Commander School, she became command master chief of Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill., from April 2006 to June 2008. In July, she assumed the duties of command master chief at Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), Great Lakes, Ill., followed by a tour as command master chief aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) from October 2009 to March 2012.

Upon completion of her tour on board USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), she served as the force master chief for Naval Education and Training Command from April 2012 to February 2013. Her personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (four awards); Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards) and numerous of unit awards. Fleet Master Chief Beldo received her Bachelor’s Degree from Excelsior College in 2005 and received her Master’s Degree from American Military University in Management in August 2015.


Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Carl Brashear

Master Chief Boatswains' Mate Carl BrashearMaster Chief Brashear enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 1948. In October 1954, Brashear graduated as a salvage diver at the Navy Diving School in Bayonne, N.J. In September 1960, he was promoted to chief boatswain’s mate and reported to USS Nereus.

In 1966, while participating in the recovery of atomic bombs following the crash of two U.S. Air Force planes off the coast of Palomares, Spain, a towing line broke loose, striking Brashear’s left leg and immediately giving him life-threatening injuries. Evacuated from the area, he was transferred to Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Va., where the portion of the leg was eventually amputated.

During this time, Brashear was promoted to senior chief boatswain’s mate. In March 1967, he recovered from his injuries and reported to the Diving School at Harbor Clearance Unit Two, Little Creek, Va., for rehabilitation and training. After becoming recertified in March 1968 as a diver, the first amputee to serve as such in the U.S. Navy, he reported to Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va.

In June 1970, Brashear graduated from the Deep-Sea Diving School at the Experimental Diving Unit located at the Washington Navy Yard at Washington, D.C., and became the first African-American Master Diver in the U.S. Navy. While on USS Recovery, Brashear was promoted to master chief boatswain’s mate in 1971. In June 1975, he was the Master Diver at the Naval Safety Center at Norfolk, Va. In June 1977, he reported back to USS Recovery. In April 1979, Brashear retired from active duty and remained in the area serving as civilian employee for the U.S. Navy until 1993. He died July 25, 2006.


Adm. Cecil Haney
Commander, U.S. Strategic Command

Adm. Cecil D. Haney

Adm. Cecil Haney, a native of Washington, D.C., graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering. Today, Haney serves as commander of U.S. Strategic Command, one of nine unified combatant commands under the Department of Defense.

A career submariner, Haney served at sea aboard USS John C. Calhoun (SSBN 630), USS Frank Cable (AS 40), USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), USS Asheville (SSN 758) and Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 8, culminating in command of USS Honolulu (SSN 718). His other fleet command tours include SUBRON-1 from June 2002 to July 2004, Submarine Group 2 from October 2006 to March 2008 and the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Haney’s shore duty assignments include administrative assistant for enlisted affairs at Naval Reactors; congressional appropriations liaison officer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Comptroller); deputy chief of staff of Plans, Policies and Requirements, U.S. Pacific Fleet (N58); director, Submarine Warfare Division (N87); director, Naval Warfare Integration Group (N00X); and deputy commander, U.S. Strategic Command.

Haney also holds master’s degrees in engineering acoustics and system technology from the Naval Post Graduate School and a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University.

He has been decorated with the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards), Legion of Merit (four awards), Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), and various campaign and unit awards. In 1998, he was awarded the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award.

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