Junetta Wilcoxson was the first wife of Carl Brashear. She was his childhood friend, later the two got married. The couple had four children. Junetta Wilcoxson and Carl Brashear were together when in 1970 a son of Kentucky sharecroppers became the US Navy’s first black master diver.
You may have seen the movie Men of Honor – a 2000 biopic drama starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. (as Mr. Brashear) and Robert De Niro. The film is inspired by the story of Carl Maxie Brashear – the first African American Master Chief diver, then also the first amputee Master Chief diver in the US Navy (as the result of a life-threatening shipboard accident in 1966).
Junetta Wilcoxson and the Men of Honor
Many people who have watched the Men of Honor have questions about Carl’s first wife – Junetta Wilcoxson. Like, did Carl really split up with Junetta as the movie implies? The answer is – yes. Junetta Wilcoxson and Carl Brashear divorced after 26 years of marriage, in 1978.
The movie depicts his wife “Jo Brashear” (played by Aunjanue Ellis) as a medical student or a doctor. Was the real Junetta Wilcoxson a doctor? Junetta’s biography does not mention anything about her studying to become a doctor.
Junetta Wilcoxson Biography
Junetta Wilcoxson was born on June 10th 1933, in Magnolia Kentucky. “June” was an attractive, compassionate, spirited, and thoughtful young lady. She was the only child of Walter and Cora Williams Wilcox. Her grandparents were Charlie and Lillie Willliams of Magnolia.
Junetta Wilcoxson was educated in the Hardin County School, where she received her high school diploma. After that she started working on becoming a licensed beautician, but this plan was put on hold as she started to get involved with a young strapping sailor, her future husband Carl Brashear.
They got married in 1952 and embarked on a life as a military family. Junetta Wilcoxson was around 19 and Carl was 21 at the time of the wedding.
The couple had four sons: Shazanta (Shane), Dewayne, Phillip (Sandy) and Patrick Brashear. Junette’s youngest son – Shazanta Brashear was born in1955, he died in 1996 of a heart attack, aged 41. Three other sons are still living. DaWayne Brashear was born in 1957 and is 59 in 2016. Phillip Maxie Brashear, a helicopter pilot in the Virginia Army National Guard was born in 1962; he is 54 in 2016. Patrick was born in 1964 and is 52 in 2016.
Junetta Brashear was a devoted wife and mother. She also was gainfully employed and active in her community. She was a long standing employee at the Naval Exchange cafeteria (Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth) and worked as a paper route supervisor at the Virginian Pilot newspaper.
The couple divorced in 1978 but remained friends. Upon the divorce, Junetta purchased her own home in Cavalier Manor, about half an hour drive away from Brashear’s home in Virginia Beach. In her new home, June continued her passion for cultivating rose bushes.
Mrs. Junetta Brashear was a long time resident of Portsmouth, VA. After retiring in 1988, she volunteered in the neighborhood and was always looking for ways to serve in her community. She was a member of New Testament Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Junetta Wilcoxson Brashear had a beautiful nature and was a kind, strong and powerful woman. June was a committed mother and devoted grandmother and great grandmother.
The former wife and life-long friend of Carl Brashear, Junetta grieved when in the summer of 2006 he died of heart failure in Portsmouth, Va. He was 75.
In the spring of 2015, Junetta passed away peacefully it her home at Harbor Tower Apartments, Portsmouth, Virginia. She was 81.
The memory of Junetta Wilcoxson will always live. She was the perfect companion for one of the most fascinating and strongest-willed divers in the history of the US Navy.