Local navy divers help Master Diver’s widow

WAVY/Joel Hilton

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Just a few days ago, local Navy divers got a distress call from one of their own.

“Everybody put their heads together and came up with a plan,” said Navy Diver Travis Arneson. “And we just put it into action.”

The action they took got pretty loud and messy.

“We’ve trimmed all of her bushes, we’ve trimmed back all of her edging around her yard,” Navy Diver Cory Clifton said. “We’re going to mow her grass and everything for her later this afternoon. We started the ramp so we can take some measurements to get it ready to go.”

The divers need to get the area ready because the woman who lives inside the home hasn’t been outside for a long time.

“She is in a situation where she cannot get out of her home,” Arneson said. “Her last wheelchair ramp failed. When we talked to her this morning, she said it has been two years since she has been out of her home.”

Master Diver Carl Brashear
Master Diver Carl Brashear

So, the divers, who are used to working underwater, decided, with some support from the community, to do some work in a little more traditional way.

PHOTOS: Divers help out one of their own

“Everybody who wasn’t forced to have to stay at work was able to come out,” Arneson said. “We’ve got some other guys coming out later. There’s chief out here, first classes, third class, we’ve got everybody out here and we’re all pitching in. When we do stuff like this, to us, it’s a team effort, it doesn’t matter what our rank and pay, and all that kinda goes to the side. We are all here for the common goal.”

And it’s a team effort to help out a part of this group’s past. The woman who asked for their help was married to the late Navy diver Carl Brashear. He was the first African American to hold the title of Master Diver.

“Everyone knows the name from the movies and stuff like that, but he did make a milestone in our community,” Clifton said. “He opened it up to more people. It took us out of an era and brought us where we need to be.”

And the divers all agree that the need for Brashear’s wife, is just a helping hand.

“It’s not about who she is,” Arneson said. “It’s about she is a human being who is trapped in a home. Her caretaker has been trying to find her help for a long time now and has had a lot of doors close in her face. I’m glad that she reached out to us so that we could open a door for her and give her the help she needs.”

And they all feel the least they can do is to help her get outside again.

The group has set up an online fund to help raise money for the wheelchair ramp they began installing Thursday. They are also trying to get enough funds to buy her a new front door. Click here to check out the fund.

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