In an excerpt from a U.S. Naval Institute oral history conducted by Paul Stillwell in 1989, retired Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Carl M. Brashear (left) recalls the day he lost his left leg. In the new movie, Men of Honor, based loosely on Brashear's life, Cuba Gooding Jr. (right) plays the part of this uncommon Navy diver.
In September 1965 I got aboard the salvage ship Hoist (ARS-40) and was preparing myself to be a master diver. A few months later, the Air Force lost a nuclear bomb off the coast of Palomares, Spain. This was when the accident happened and I lost my leg. The reason the bomb dropped in the water was that two airplanes had been maneuvering while a tanker was fueling a B-52. According to what people said, the tanker gained on the B-52 too fast, and they collided in midair. Three of the bombs' parachutes opened and landed over Spain. One of the parachutes failed to open, and it fell in the water.