The Roosevelt name must be one of the best known names in US and world history, for it was the name of not 1 but 2 legendary presidents.
A lesser known but not a lesser heroic man was Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), known as Theodore Jr., an American government, business, and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt.
Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion in 1919 following his valiant service in the United States Army during World War I. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–33), Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, Vice-President at Doubleday Books. Returning to the Army in 1940, he led the first wave of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in 1944, earning the Medal of Honor for his command. He died in France 36 days later, holding the rank of Brigadier General.
Five months before the allied landings in Normandy, Roosevelt was assigned to the U.S 4th Infantry Division (Ivy Division), and was stationed in England. Roosevelt had requested to lead the attack on Utah Beach with the first wave of soldiers; however, this request was repeatedly denied by Major General Barton. Barton eventually agreed, albeit reluctantly, and Barton made it very clear that he did not expect Roosevelt to live through the initial landings on Utah Beach.
As a result of this agreement from Barton, Roosevelt would be the only General to land with the first wave of troops on any of the allied beaches on D-Day.
At the time of the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, Roosevelt was a frail man, not in the best of health; needing the aid of a walking stick. His health had suffered as a result of the first World War. Despite his poor health, he proved to be a fine leader and as depicted in the film the longest day, he would famously state: “We’ll start the war from right here!”. He made this famous quote after discovering that the allied landings on Utah Beach were approximately 2 km off course.
His decision to start the battle regardless of this error, worked in favour of the allies. As many of the German’s stationed in this area were redeployed to deal with the allied paratroopers dropping over Sainte Marie Du Mont, resistance from this part of the Atlantic Wall coastal defences was considerably weaker than expected.
Later in the day, once the beach head at Utah Beach was secured, General Barton came ashore and to his great surprise, Roosevelt was waiting to meet him. Barton never expected to see him alive and both men were filled with great emotion.
On July 12th 1944, after being involved in fierce fighting, Roosevelt died from a heart attack. He was buried at the Omaha Beach American Cemetery in Colleville Sur Mer, Normandy. He was buried next to his brother, Quentin Roosevelt, who was killed in the first World War.
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. is buried in Plot: Plot D, Row 28, Grave 45.
For his bravery, Theordore Roosevelt Jr was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Dear Sir, I salute you.
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