Navy Ceremony Formally Dedicates Training Pool in Honor of Charles Jackson French

Photo Courtesy: MC3 Sang Kim/Navy Communications

Navy Ceremony Formally Dedicates Training Pool in Honor of Charles Jackson French

A ceremony on May 21 formally dedicated a training pool in honor of Naval hero Charles Jackson French.

The surface rescue swimmer pool at Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) is now named in honor of Steward’s Mate 1st Class Charles Jackson French. The pool is used by trainees in the Pensacola-based Naval Aviation Schools Command, whose motto is “So others may live.”

It’s a fitting honor for French, who during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 dove in to save 15 injured comrades from the USS Gregory by loading them to a life raft and towing the raft to safety by swimming through shark-infested waters for more than six hours.

Family members of Charles Jackson French cut the ribbon at a dedication of a training pool at Naval Base San Diego in French’s honor Saturday; Photo Courtesy: MC3 Sang Kim/Navy Communications

The ceremony included members of French’s family and other guests. (French passed away in 1956 and is buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.) French’s nephews Chester French and Roscoe Harris, were in attendance, along with Chester’s wife Linda, Roscoe’s sons Michael and Christopher Harris and Christopher’s sons Chris Jr., Mark and Samuel Harris. Also present was James Wright, a staffer from the office of Congressman Don Bacon of French’s native Nebraska. The congressional delegation in that state has pushed for greater commemoration of the Omaha native’s service.

As part of the ceremony, the family was presented the Navy and Marine Corps Medal posthumously to French.

The honor is part of a wave of long overdue recognition for French’s heroism. He was awarded a Letter of Commendation by Admiral William Halsey, then the Commander of South Pacific Area and South Pacific Forces, during his service, but other recognition has been slower to arrive.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Charles French was an African American serving at a time when prejudice and discrimination were ever present in our Armed Forces and society,” NBSD Commanding Officer, Capt. Ted Carlson, said. “Which makes this recognition of Charles French’s heroic actions even more significant.”

“It will inspire generations of Sailors,” Rear Admiral Charles Brown said. “It’s a story of the best of who we are.”

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Krash
30 days ago

Thank you for writing this and sharing the story of an amazing hero.

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