12 March 2021

Published March 10, 2021 by rochellewisoff

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


Great-Grandpa Harry’s war stories made wonderful essays for my seventh-grade history class.  

“I never seen anything like it.” His faded blue eyes brimmed. “Charles Jackson French. The ‘human tugboat’. Ever hear of him?”  

“No, Grandpa.”   

“A-course not. So Imma gonna tell you.”

I poised my pencil.

 “After the Japs sank our ship, a few of us wounded escaped on a big’ol life raft. Charlie tied the tow rope around hisself. Eight hours o’dodging sharks and bullets, he swam us to safety. Never received the full honors due him.”


Great-Grandpa fisted his gnarled hand.

“Worst reason ever, son. Skin color.”


85 comments on “12 March 2021

  • Dear Rochelle,

    You know… one would think that a feat so heroic, so out of this world, would be lauded and applauded, regardless of the colour of a man’s skin. I guess not. And such a tragic shame. Thank goodness for the fine works of people like you to shine a light where it is needed!

    Shalom and lotsa courageous love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,

      I don’t understand the reasoning in the color of a man’s skin negating an act of such heroism. It makes no bloody sense to me. Yet, that beautiful young woman who recited her gorgeous poem, was, only a few weeks later racially profiled. SMH.
      Thank you.

      Shalom and lotsa hugs while clutching my flashlight 😉


      Liked by 1 person

      • Neither will I. My goodness. I’m sure (please tell me this is so) that the men he did save were grateful appropriately!
        And as for Amanda Gorman. Seriously? Bloody hell…


      • Yes, I agree. I was out house hunting and went through one of the local stores in search of a snack. Met an old lady (86yrs by her reckoning) who “cornered” me to talk. Being who I am, I patiently listened, but she made my blood boil. She had white hair and sky blue eyes. Typical Aryan… and with the same attitude. She leaned close and whispered to me her sentiments about the black family shopping at the other end of the aisle. I couldn’t help it… I should have held my tongue… I told her just what I thought about her racist comment, then politely informed her that I , too, was a minority and didn’t appreciate her attitude. Then, I walked away. I don’t have to encourage that kind of language or opinion, even if she is my elder. I’ve seen enough of the “nazi” sentiments to see them for what they are. grrr…. Looking in her eyes…well, you could see the hatred even before she spoke, ya know. See the “serpent” within. I went on to grab my cookies and check out. The black family that was at the other end of the aisle was behind me. One of the little ones tugged my pant leg… he looked up at me in the “way too old for his age” look and thanked me for “telling her off.”. His mom smiled and said the same. It is what it is. I’m glad they felt they weren’t alone. It takes everyone of us standing up, don’t it. ~Shalom, Bear

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good for you, Bear. ❤
          When I was a young married expecting our first child, we bought our first house. A "sweet" little old lady lived across the street. As we got more acquainted over lemonade and cookies on her front porch she told me how afraid she'd been that the house would sell to blacks. I bit my tongue. Needless to say I wasn't quite as bold as you, but seethed inside.
          At the same time, we were attending a Lamaze class and become quite close to a black couple expecting their second child. After our babies were born we invited them over for dinner. After dinner she and I went for a walk. My neighbor was on her porch. As we walked by, I instructed my friend to smile and wave at her as did I.
          I hoped it would give my racist neighbor something to think about. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m not usually one to be so outspoken in “real” life…not like here online. Usually, I’m pretty silent. this lady just caught me at a time when I was feeling pretty tichy. It’s not like me to be that rude often.


  • He picked a wrong era to be heroic. What a shame that his bravery was not acknowledged. He probably was not alone in those times. Plus I guess in his time the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder were not known and many service personnel and their families must have suffered silently.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Worst reason of all. My kids are studying racism at school and it gives me hope for the future, but your story reminds me there were many white people who have stood with the black man in the past and it isn’t enough until we all do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nobbin,

      It is one of those things that make you go hmmm. So many of these dedicated and brave soldiers were discounted because of their skin color. Yet they pledged their (often dying) allegiance to this country. Thank you for swimming by. 😉



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Genia,

      Nope not my great-grandpa. Actually my dad fought in WW2. 😉 The fact that it was real to you is a high compliment. Thank you. An article in one of my husband’s VFW magazines inspired this story.




  • What a story, what a hero — and what a tragedy. Well told, Rochelle. The only remotely good thing I see happening these days is the increased awareness of systemic racism. In my country just as much as in yours, just not so ‘seen’.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thank you, again, dear Rochelle, for this important and oft-forgotten parts of history. Forgotten not because they do not matter, but because there were those who deliberately did not want them know, and kept them silenced, and pretended they did not take place, all to benefit themselves at the expense of others. We saw it then. We see it now still. Thank you for giving the deserving, a voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Na’ama Y’karah,

      It’s these obscure pieces of history that shouldn’t be obscure that make one want to go back and right all the wrongs. At the very least they should be shouted from the housetops, shouldn’t they? Thank you for your vote of confidence. 😀



      Liked by 1 person

  • A very sad story yet inspiring one as well. Charlie was a true hero. Thank you for these wonderful stories where you bring to light these unsung heroes. May there be a day soon when all people are “judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.”

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    “Worst reason ever” is right, and so many reasons for prejudice fall into that category. Racism, colorism. ageism, sexism, “I just don’t like your face”-ism. And so we live on to hate our neighbors another day. As always, your historical fiction takes me back in time and educates me. 💝


    Liked by 1 person

  • Querida Rochelle,
    The unsung heroes who are never heard about. A sad testament to our servicemen who
    do heroic things far beyond what one could imagine. Bravo to those who serve and keep us safe. May the bureaucracy start to change for these heroes. Bien escrito, mi amiga.
    Abrazos y Carino,
    Be Safe 😷 … Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Querida Isadora,

      There are too many war heroes whose families are only receiving the accolades they should’ve received 70 years ago. We can only hope for positive change in this department. Gracias para sus palabras amables, mi amiga.

      Shalom y abrazos,


      Liked by 1 person

  • Great story, and what an amazing true story, one I’d never heard of before. That’s expected I suppose. You kept your story true to life with the “Jap” reference. My late across the street neighbor had been in the navy during WWII, and still held a grudge against the “Japs.” Oddly, not so many held the same feelings for the Germans. Maybe soon after the war, but not into the 2000s. I wish those attitudes would die out with that generation, but here we go again it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lisa,

      My dad fought in WWII and referred to the Japanese as Japs. Of course the term JAP also refers to Jewish American Princess. 😉 (of which I am one). Attitudes toward people make me pronuclear. Thank you.




  • How quickly someone like Audie Murphy came to center stage from WWII (not that he didn’t do a brave, courageous act) but not someone like Charles Jackson French, only because of skin color. Thank you for sharing, Rochelle, as otherwise I would never have known.

    Liked by 1 person

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