Recognizing an American Hero: Charles Jackson French

Recognizing an American Hero: Charles Jackson French

Charles Jackson French was a Petty Officer First Class, serving on the USS Gregory - a Wickes-class destroyer - during World War 2.

During the Battle of Guadalcanal, the USS Gregory was struck by shells from Japanese ships, and began to sink. The captain ordered the ship abandoned, and the crew reluctantly dived into shark-infested waters.

While French and 15 of his shipmates drifted on a raft after abandoning ship, they began to be shelled as they floated helpless in the water. French tied a line to himself, hopped into the water, and swam for several hours, towing the raft behind him. Several of those survivors took turns towing, but French led the way.

They were soon rescued by a USMC landing craft after being spouted by an American scout plane.

French, just 23 years old at the time, received a letter of commendation from Admiral Halsey. He was posthumously awarded the Navy & Marine Corps Medal after his death in 1956.

More about the USS Gregory:

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