Charles Jackson French Lauded By Congressman Don Bacon

Charles Jackson French and sis Viola2
Photo Courtesy: ISHOF archive

World War II hero Charles Jackson French was praised by Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon earlier this week before Congress on the House floor. His heroic story includes swimming up to eight hours in shark-infested water to save his fellow 15 wounded sailors after the USS Gregory was attacked and sunk by Japanese gunfire off Guadalcanal. French tied the raft to his waste and pulled the wounded to safety. His tale has received recent attention after a story written by International Swimming Hall of Fame Historian Bruce Wigo was noticed by retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer and author Malcolm Nance.

In May 2021, Congressman Bacon wrote a letter to the Honorable Thomas W. Harker, Acting Secretary of the Navy, calling for French to be properly recognized for his heroism in combat.

French was honored on the third night of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, French’s hometown, with his family members there to see it.

“My dad told us that story when we were about 6-7 years old and I never forgot about it, so to see it surface now is really awesome,” Michael Harris, a great-nephew of French, told KETV in Nebraska.

“A very selfless act that he did back then and as polarized as this country is right now we could use a shot in the arm. He didn’t think twice, he just went into action, saved lives,” Harris said.

French’s family is thankful for everyone who fought to honor him, now including Congressman Don Bacon and the family of someone French saved.

“People have kept up the fight for him and I think some kind of posthumous award would be beautiful,” nephew Chester French said.

Bacon’s speech can be viewed below via Youtube.

For the full story on Charles Jackson French, read Bruce Wigo’s story.