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Compatriot Medal of Honor Recipients

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was the son of President Theodore Roosevelt. He was born on September 13, 1887, at the family estate in Oyster Bay, New York. Roosevelt graduated from Harvard University in 1908 and entered the business world in the steel and carpet industries before becoming a branch manager of an investment bank.

After service as an officer and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel during World War I, Roosevelt began his political career in the New York State Assembly. He later was to serve as assistant secretary of the Navy, the governor of Puerto Rico from 1929 to 1932, and the governor General of the Philippines from 1932 until 1933. He resigned and returned to the U.S. shortly after his cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was elected President of the United States. He served as Vice President at Doubleday Publishing Company, later serving as chairman of the board of the American Express Company, as vice president for Boy Scouts of America, and as president of the National Health Council.

Roosevelt returned to active duty in April 1941 and was placed in command of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division: the same group in which he fought during the First World War. Late in 1941, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. Throughout World War II, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. suffered from heart trouble and arthritis problems which caused him to walk with a cane. He saw action in northern Africa, Sicily, and the mainland of Italy.

In 1944, General Eisenhower assigned Roosevelt to England to help lead the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. On D-Day, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. led the first wave of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division’s landing at Utah Beach and earned the Medal of Honor. His Medal of Honor citation reads in part that “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.”

One month after the landing at Utah Beach, Roosevelt died of a heart attack in France. He is buried at the American cemetery in Normandy, next to his brother, Quentin, a World Was I Air Corps pilot who was shot down and killed behind enemy lines on July 14, 1918.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.’s SAR National number is 32876 and his Empire State Society number is 3526. His SAR patriot ancestor is Jacobus I. Roosevelt, who served as commissary in the New York Troops during the Revolutionary War. He signed his SAR application on June 10, 1919. Attached to the last page of Roosevelt’s SAR application is a newspaper clipping of unknown origin with a handwritten date of “9/20/44” entitled “Gen. Roosevelt’s Widow Presented Medal of Honor.” Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson presented the award to Roosevelt’s widow. Also attending the presentation were “Gen. George C. Marshall, chief of staff, and Gen. H. H. Arnold, commander of the Army Air Forces. The War Department said that the award had been recommended prior to Roosevelt’s death in Normandy on July 12.”

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