Time for the last member of the Howling Commandos appearing in photo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Jacques Dernier, portrayed by my fellow countryman Bruno Ricci. In The Winter Soldier, Dernier only appears as a face on a poster in the section of the Smithsonian Museum dedicated to the Howling Commandos, but in The First Avenger he was one of the soldiers rescued by Captain America from a prison camp, and one of the Howlers later on. He also appears, once again in photograph only, in a deleted scene from The Avengers, where Cap reads the S.H.I.E.L.D. files of his old friends: his current status is unknown. In the comics, he wasn’t a member of the Howling Commandos, but had the occasion to fight with them nevertheless. Let’s see together.
Jacques Dernier was born in France at the beginning of the XX Century. He wast still young when World War I hit his country, but he learnt to hate war nevertheless seeing the many deaths it brought along. When the war ended, Dernier thought he could have a normal life, but World War II began a few years later, breaking his dreams of peace. At first, Jacques opposed the war, but when Germany attacked France by surprise, invading the neutral Belgium and conquering half of the country in a few days, Dernier realised something had to be done. The Vichy Government, the German authority imposed by the Nazis over the occupied country, started ruling the East side of France with the same iron fist the Nazis used in their homecountry, and many young people organised in a Resistance, to oppose the invaders and their collaborators. By that time, Jacques wasn’t so young anymore, but he decided to join the Resistance nevertheless. Thanks to his patriotism and capabilities, he soon became the leader of his cell, and organised many attacks and actions of disturbance and interference. When the Americans finally intervened in the war, French Resistance started cooperating with them, and Jacques was among the ones who liked the most to work with them. From his new friends, he gained the nickname Frenchie, which would have accompanied him throughout all the war.
Once, one of the American operatives he had to help happened to be Nick Fury, a sergeant who commanded the elite squad Howling Commandos. Fury had to recover the daughter of Dr. Zenish, a scientist who had to be escorted to England. Not fully understanding what Fury told him, Dernier believed him to be in love with the girl, and mobilized his entire cell to help Fury “for the sake of romance”. Despite the misunderstandings, from that moment Frenchie became friends with Fury, and the two of them kept in contact. When Dernier was ambushed and captured by the Nazis, one of his fellow partisans, Claire, went in search of Fury and his Commandos to ask them to save Dernier…something that the Americans readily complied. Unfortunately, a fake Dernier, a Nazi spy named Hans, took his place in the prison camp, and the Howlers freed the wrong man. Fury however got the knack of the facade, and, after disposing of the spy, he proceeded to free the real Frenchie…who was now able to sabotage the Nazi ammunition warehouse he had come to that region for. Dernier had the occasion to give back the favour when he recognised, among the Howlers’ ranks, Irma, a Nazi spy now posing as a nurse, who had previously tried to lure him into a trap in Paris. Fury at first didn’t want to listen to him, since he felt something for Irma, but eventually the “nurse” led him to a trap, and Fury survived only thanks to Dernier’s intervention. Irma was killed, and the two men strenghtened their friendship. From that moment, Dernier helped the Commandos even more, following them for the battle of the D-Day.
Jacques Dernier is a carefree and sometimes irreverent man, who fights for his country, but tries to enjoy life in spite of war. He’s a capable leader for his cell of Resistance, and he’s a capable combatant and an expert in explosives. Often joking about the prejudices on French people, and truly caring about the outcome of the war despite what his attitude suggests, Dernier is one of the Howling Commandos’ most precious allies.