Brakefield graduated from Ensley High School. During World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to serve on board the U.S.S. Mazama, which delivered ammunition to battleships in the Pacific theater. Brakefield believed it was because of his height that he was ordered to don dress whites and attend the Empire of Japan's formal surrender to allied forces on board the U.S.S. Missouri' on September 2, 1945.
- Garrison, Greg (July 2, 2021) "Alabama man who witnessed Japanese surrender aboard USS Missouri dies at 93." The Birmingham News