Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

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Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1887-1944), the son of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, was a brigadier general in the United States Army Reserve. He went ashore in the most dangerous first wave of the "D-Day" invasion in the Battle of Normandy, as the assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division on Utah Beach.

Senior officers had refused his repeated requests to land with his troops, based on his unquestionably poor health. Needing to use a cane to walk, he came ashore armed only with a pistol. He had severe arthritis, and active heart disease; he suffered a fatal heart attack on July 12. Sadly, he died without learning he had been selected to command the 90th Infantry Division.

D-Day

General Roosevelt recognized that the troops had landed on the wrong part of the beach, but both redirected the followup elements, saying "We'll start the war from here!" and then, by personal example, led pinned-down troops to move inland.

He and his father were the second father-son pair,[1] and the first reservists, to receive the highest U.S. decoration for military valor, the Medal of Honor, both posthumously.

Medal of Honor Citation: *ROOSEVELT, THEODORE, JR.

Rank and organization: brigadier general, U.S. Army. Place and date: Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. Entered service at: Oyster Bay, N.Y. Birth: Oyster Bay, N.Y. G.O. No.: 77, 28 September 1944. Citation: for gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.

He was portrayed by Henry Fonda in the movie, "The Longest Day".

1st Infantry Division

Earlier in the war, he had been assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry Division (U.S.) in North Africa and Sicily. He and the division commander, Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, were relieved, "without prejudice", by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower on the grounds of fatigue. Since both later received comparable commands, this is a reasonably plausible account. [2]There is also some opinion that Allen and Roosevelt had become insubordinate, based on the outstanding performance of the "Big Red One", which considered itself an elite division; Gens. George Patton and Omar Bradley disliked their attitude and asked Eisenhower for permission to relieve them.[3]

First World War

As a Reserve officer, he commanded a battalion of, and then the 26th Infantry Regiment in combat, as part of the 1st Infantry Division, and was both gassed and severely wounded.

References

  1. Arthur MacArthur and Douglas MacArthur were the first
  2. Randy Pullen (Spring 2001), "Medal of Honor - Theodore Roosevelt, Jr", Army Reserve Magazine
  3. Cole C. Kingseed (Winter 2003), "(Book review) Theodore Roosevelt Jr.: the life of a War Hero", Infantry Magazine