Sasse has Tuesday deadline to get post office named for Omaha WWII hero

todayMarch 21, 2022

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The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper honored French with this {photograph} and story in November 1942. (Courtesy of Bruce Wigo)

OMAHA — The final hurdle stopping the naming of the Benson department submit workplace for World Conflict II hero Charles Jackson French is a signature from U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

The remainder of Nebraska’s congressional delegation have been concerned in a months-long effort to honor French, who lived in Omaha when he enlisted. The Senate Homeland Safety and Common Affairs Committee, nevertheless, gained’t contemplate such proposals until each senators from the state concerned co-sponsor a invoice or ship a letter of assist, a committee employees member confirmed Friday. 

However Sasse is holding to his long-held place of not sponsoring payments to rename submit places of work. The deadline is midday Tuesday so as to add the Benson submit workplace renaming into the present invoice, the Nebraska Examiner has realized. 

After the Japanese sank the USS Gregory on Sept. 5, 1942, Petty Officer 1st Class French jumped into the water, tied on a rope and began swimming, pulling a ship of 15 injured sailors to security.

French’s nephew, Roscoe Harris, who’s almost 90, mentioned the present effort isn’t a couple of placing a Black man’s identify on a submit workplace, however about ensuring folks see and listen to in regards to the worth of sacrifice. 

“This isn’t about white America or black America,” Harris mentioned late final week. “It’s about America. This isn’t about my household. It’s about telling an American story. 

“The story ought to matter as a result of he cared about his fellow sailors. He cared about them when the Navy was segregated. He saved these white sailors as a result of they wanted saving.”

Charles Jackson French. (Courtesy of Historical past Nebraska)

French’s story significantly resonates as a result of the Navy in these days didn’t acknowledge heroism by Black service members in the identical approach it did heroic acts by white sailors, navy consultants say.

The Navy restricted the kinds of assignments Black sailors may do. French was a multitude attendant, working within the ship’s kitchen or galley.

After his actions that day in 1942, his commander advisable him for the Navy Cross. The Navy as a substitute gave him a much less prestigious letter of commendation. 

His story has obtained extra recognition lately because of Bruce Wigo of the Worldwide Swimming Corridor of Fame. 

Wigo’s work to acknowledge an African-American swimmer’s heroics are a giant motive why the Navy this yr renamed one among its key coaching swimming pools at Naval Station San Diego after French.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., mentioned she needs the delegation unified behind the submit workplace invoice. 

“It’s essential to the household,” Fischer mentioned. “It’s essential to the Omaha group. I’d encourage Senator Sasse to ship a letter to the committee.” 

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., a retired Air Drive brigadier basic and the one member of Nebraska’s delegation who served within the navy, launched the Home model of the invoice. Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith joined as unique co-sponsors.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., throughout a listening to within the Russell Senate Workplace Constructing in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Pictures)

“I’m hoping Ben will resolve to assist,” Bacon instructed the Examiner. “It’s proper for Omaha and the French household. It is very important keep in mind our legacy and honor our heroes.”

Sasse, by a spokesman, mentioned he, like others within the Nebraska delegation, requested Navy management to evaluate French’s Navy file to make sure that he was given “acceptable honors.”

However spokesman Taylor Sliva mentioned Sasse has no plans to signal onto the invoice. 

“No, he gained’t be co-sponsoring,” Sliva mentioned in a textual content. “When he ran (and lots of instances since) he mentioned he wouldn’t be on submit workplace naming payments. He needs to maintain that promise to Nebraskans (however he actually gained’t be blocking something).”

Sasse’s workplace has pointed to 2016, when then-Rep. Brad Ashford of Omaha introduced an analogous invoice to rename an Omaha submit workplace after Caleb Nelson, a Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan.

That yr, the Republican-led Senate allowed the invoice to get a flooring vote beneath a process that suspended the foundations. 

Below Democratic management, the Senate has largely caught to a committee rule that requires assist from each senators from a state to get a submit workplace identify to the Senate flooring.

A drawing for the Workplace of Conflict Info shares the tales of Individuals at battle, together with Charles Jackson French, who lived in Omaha when he joined the Navy. (Courtesy of the Nationwide Archives)

Senate staffers acknowledged the invoice may very well be pulled onto the ground utilizing Rule 14, just like what occurred in 2016, however they mentioned that’s hardly ever performed for submit workplace payments.

Chester French, 82, one other of Charles’ nephews, mentioned he doesn’t need to get political, and neither does the remainder of the French household. However the household would love Sasse to rethink.

“What it could do is, it could present that an individual of shade, what he achieved, it’s on the submit workplace constructing,” Chester French mentioned. “It might be one thing the place if younger adults, previous adults is perhaps inside the Benson space, in the event that they knew somewhat in regards to the historical past of him, they might assume that this could be fairly an achievement.

“I’d inform him to go together with the remainder of the delegation.”

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Written by: soft fm radio staff

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