In time it was learned that Charles Jackson French stood 5'8" tall and weighed 195 pounds. The actions of the French will never be forgotten, as will their ultimate sacrifice. Future Hero of the Heartland events may be held during other heritage months to celebrate heroes among a broad array of diverse ethnic groups. Its the kind of narrative that captures your imagination regardless of which side of the aisle you are on., Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia has supported Thomas request. When Adrian told him that the swim would be arduous and the water was full of sharks, French responded that he was more afraid of the Japanese than he was of the sharks. He remembers meeting his uncle during World War II just after the famous rescue and being inspired to learn to swim. Teachers are pumped. Charles French managed to load fifteen injured crew members onto a life raft and then tied a rope to the raft and secured the other end to his waist, after which he swam for eight hours through shark-infested water until they were rescued, but received no recommendation for the Medal of Honor. French, who was manning the anti-aircraft guns, was killed in the ensuing explosion, making him one of the first casualties of the battle. Read the full statement. In Omaha, French was honored at a Creighton University football game and was selected to lead a crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance at an Armistice Day (now called Veterans Day) event. Steve is the military affairs reporter for The World-Herald. He told Adrian, Just keep telling me if Im going the right way. Once daylight broke, the raft was spotted by a scout plane, and a landing crew was sent out to rescue them. This was one of the few assignments available to Black troops and included stevedores, stewards. It read: For meritorious conduct in action while serving on board of a destroyer transport which was badly damaged during the engagement with Japanese forces in the British Solomon Islands on September 5, 1942. Yet, history has overlooked him. "The country did . French like so many Black men believed that if they showed they were willing to fight for the country that the country would show them and people of their race some gratitude and equality only to return to the same situation they were fighting against. A man who served and re-enlisted again when we entered World War II. The event, held Feb. 9, 2023 in UNO's Milo Bail Student Center, honored Petty Officer 1 st Class Charles Jackson French for his tremendous bravery and efforts in World War II. Thomas is also requesting support from the citizens as well as other groups and veterans organizations to ensure that Mr. Miller and Mr. French are properly recognized for their contributions to this country by making phone calls or sending letters to members of congress and the senate. The omission remained on the record for more than four decades. There are some that estimated the time at two hours but in any case, it was a tremendous physical act of courage, keeping in mind that the enemy was still searching for them with the intent of killing them. The award was presented during a ceremony in which a pool used for training Navy rescue swimmers at Naval Base San Diego was renamed in Frenchs honor. During this time, the military followed the segregation laws that were prevalent in the nation. The son of a Black minister and a woman who would not admit she was White, James McBride grew up in orchestrated chaos with his 11 siblings in the poor, all-Black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. Virginia State Conference NAACP, Doris (Dorie) Miller, is a Black veteran, who demonstrated such dedication to his duty on December 7, 1941, when his ship was attacked in Pearl Harbor, Doris Miller showed little regard for his safety when he dragged his wounded captain and several shipmates to safety before manning an anti-aircraft gun that he had never been trained to use, and brought down several Japanese planes, but was not recommended for the Medal of Honor. He swam six to eight hours in shark-infested waters before being rescued by marines on a navy landing craft. His own father served in the war, too. A Black sailor swam against sharks to save his White shipmates. As promising as that sounded, that was the most dangerous place to be for fear that they would be captured and executed. Navy officials escorted members of Frenchs family to his gravesite at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, on San Diegos Point Loma peninsula. While it is great to receive these honors think how much better it would have been to the generations who were denied knowledge and inspiration from a true hero! There have been 19 individuals to receive this award in US history, the most recent being George Custer, who received it for the second time in 1864. In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. French was an African American serving at a time when prejudice and discrimination were ever-present in our Armed Forces and society, said Capt. Schomburg dedicated his life to proving that teacher wrong and Schomburg did an amazing job with his collection. He was 37 years old when he died on November 7, 1956, in San Diego, California. A man discriminated against by the country that he loved, was willing to put his life on the line for. French received no medal, only a letter of commendation. Soon Frenchs name will be immortalized in Omaha, too. Keith Station, deputy chief of staff for diversity, equity, & inclusion for the City of Omaha, shares remarks at the Hero of the Heartland event. The mess attended tied a rope around his waist and the boat and began the journey. Despite the fact that the Medal of Honor is extremely rare, it can be received twice. During World War II, he served as a U.S. sailor. French was memorialized on War gum trading cards and in a comic strip. He certainly earned a much higher award than he was given. French stayed in the military until the end of the war, then took a civilian job with the Navy in San Diego. Social media posts over the weekend began highlighting the story of Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Jackson French of Foreman, Arkansas, who became a national hero after the destroyer Gregory was sunk Sept. 5, 1942, by Japanese warships near Guadalcanal. On January 11, 1945, French was serving aboard the USS Bunker Hill, an aircraft carrier that was involved in the Battle of Okinawa. 1603) On June 20, 2022, President Biden signed it into law. During his youth, he would often swim in the Red River and became quite adept at it. Eric Ewing, executive director of the Great Plains Black History Museum, shares remarks at the Hero of the Heartland event. Charles Jackson French saved the lives 15 Sailorsall of them whiteby pulling them on a raft behind him as he swam for hours through shark-infested waters. S. House of Representatives: Demand a Congressional Medal of Honor for Petty Officer Charles Jackson French - Sign the Petition! UNO Chancellor Joanne Li, Ph.D., CFA, speaks to the bravery and courage of Charles Jackson French at the Hero of the Heartland event. via @Change Calls to recognize black WWII hero shed light on feat of heroism, Omaha-native Charles Jackson French is credited with saving his entire crew while serving in the U.S. Navy. His conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service. If the Navy and Marine Corps Medal is appropriate for Frenchs action, and by any objective measure it would be, then he ought to get the Navy Cross of MOH. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Frenchs story was brought back to prominence through a social media post by the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Instead, the Navy only issued a letter of commendation. As one of the survivors, French found himself in the water on a life raft. For Black History Month 2022 we focused on Health and Wellness in the Black Community. I find it hard to believe that the Admiral would sign a letter of commendation that said that and thought it was the right award, if race did not play a part. Note: when French was in the Navy, it was not permitted for there to be Blacks and Whites in the water at the same time. 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While the sailors in the life raft were off the burning ship, they were still in deep trouble. 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After the engagement, a group of about fifteen men were adrift on a raft, which was being deliberately shelled by Japanese naval forces. Growing Up and Early Naval Days. During World War I he served under the name Charles F. Hoffman. Information from ISHOF,, KETV in Omaha, and the Chicago Defender was used in the article, Filed Under: Heroes Tagged With: Charles Jackson French, rescue, Solomon Islands, USS Gregory. When bombs sank the. When expanded it provides a list of search options that will switch the search inputs to match the current selection. All DragonDen media is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. Will you do the same? 6001 Dodge Street, Thomas has also been in communication with other senators and members of Congress asking them to support this effort. The Arkansas native had moved to Omaha to live with his sister as a youth after his parents died, and he became one of the most famous Black war heroes of the 1940s. A pool and a letter of commendation dont seem like enough for this true American hero. Bacon, R-Neb., had written a letter to the acting secretary of the Navy a year ago, asking for a review of Frenchs file to determine whether he had received the proper awards. The University prohibits any form of retaliation taken against anyone for reporting discrimination, harassment, or retaliation for otherwise engaging in protected activity. He is shown here later in his career, as a lieutenant commander. I guess Pedo Joe has already forgotten about Alwyn Cashe. This might be the first time I agree with Malcolm Nance. This cartoon by Black artist Charles Alston for the U.S. Office of War Information celebrates the wartime valor of Charles Jackson French and two other Black sailors, Doris "Dorrie" Miller and Ervin Bell. I know that lots of guys missed out on medals for one reason or another, but for him to be recognized at the time for risking life (from nature) to avoid having his companions killed by direct action or by being taken prisoner of the Japanese and to just get a letter seems more than just an over-site. Messman Charles French became a hero to his shipmates after their destroyer USS Gregory (DD-82) was sunk by Imperial Japanese Navy ships on 5 September 1942. When the sailors were rescued, the Master at Arms attempted to separate French from the men he had just saved. Charles Jackson French, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away peacefully at the age of 77 on June 17th, 2020. Either wouldeasilybe warranted in my opinion. Charles Jackson French and his sister, Viola, were honored at a Creighton football game in Omaha on Oct. 31, 1942. On May 21, 2022, a dedication ceremony for the bases rescue swimmer training pool in Frenchs honor was held at Naval Base San Diego, during which the award was presented. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Don Bacon,cleared the House of Representatives in March. Petty Officer First Class Charles Jackson French was an American hero who gave his life in service of his country. Charles Jackson French saved 15 men from the USS Gregory in September of 1942. French was hailed as the hero of the Solomons and the Human Tugboat for his daring rescue of the Pacific during World War II. Dismiss. Yet, history has overlooked him. There was a problem saving your notification. This petition starter stood up and took action. Adrian also recommended him for a Navy Cross, the Navys second-highest award for valor, but he received only a letter of commendation. His story was retold in comic strips and trading cards, and he traveled the country to help sell war bonds before enthusiastic crowds. He received an honorable discharge on November 11, 1941, but re-enlisted after Pearl Harbor. Itwould ef. Charles Jackson French is another unsung Black veteran who demonstrated extreme heroism after his ship was attacked in the early morning of September 5, 1942. He went into the service as a mess attendant, the only rate then available to a Black man. Retroactive to 7 December 1941, the criteria and procedure for award of the medal were likely not yet formalized when word of Frenchs heroics came in. French was a swimmer who performed a. The VSC NAACP is in full support of Thomass campaign. ABOUT THE VIRGINIA NAACPFounded in 1935, the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth, overseeing over 100 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. Im glad I waited til the evening to read this, its beer:30 hours at Fort Roh-Dog and this cold one is hoisted to the deeds of Messman Charles French. Charles Jackson French with his sister, Viola, at a Creighton University football game on Oct. 31, 1942, at which he was honored. 2023 A Month of Tribute to 31 Women We Should All Know, Rosewood A Typical Race Riot in America. French was memorialized on War gum trading cards and in a comic strip.
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