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First Name: Theodore

Last Name: Roosevelt

Birthplace: Oyster Bay, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 13 September 1887

Date of Death: 12 July 1944

Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served: 1917-1919, 1940-1944
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Brigadier General, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (13 September 1887 - 12 July 1944) was a U.S. Army officer who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, during World War II. Roosevelt fought in both of the 20th century's world wars. He was also a prominent political and business leader.


Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (called 'Teddy' throughout his childhood) was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt with his second wife, Edith Roosevelt. He was born on 13 September 1887 at the family estate in Oyster Bay, NY, when his father was just starting his political career. His siblings were brothers, Archibald (nicknamed "Archie"), Quentin, and Kermit; and sister, Ethel, and half-sister, Alice.

Teddy, like all the Roosevelt children, was immensely influenced by his father. In later life, Ted would record some of these childhood recollections in a series of newspaper articles written around the time of World War I. One day when he was about nine, his father gave young Ted a rifle. Ted was very excited and wanted to see if it worked. So after promising not to tell his mother, he fired a small shot into the roof. They never got caught for that.

When Ted was a child, his father initially expected more of him than of his siblings - an added burden that almost caused him to suffer a nervous breakdown.

In one article, Ted recalled his first time in Washington when the elder Theodore was Civil Service Commissioner, "... when father was civil service commissioner I often walked to the office with him. On the way down he would talk history to me-not the dry history of dates and charters, but the history where you yourself in your imagination could assume the role of the principal actors, as every well-constructed boy wishes to do when interested. During every battle we would stop and father would draw out the full plan in the dust in the gutter with the tip of his umbrella. Long before the European war had broken over the world father would discuss with us military training and the necessity for every man being able to take his part."


Ted's little brother, Quentin, was naturally gifted intellectually (like his father) and sailed through Harvard. Although studies did not come easy for Ted, he persisted and graduated from Harvard University in 1908 after attending Groton School where he became, like his father, a member of the Porcellian Club. After graduating from college, he entered the business world. He took positions in the steel business and carpet business before becoming the branch manager of an investment bank. He had a flair for business and amassed a considerable fortune in the years leading up to World War I and on into the 1920s. The income from his investments stood him in good stead to become involved in politics after the War. Before he went to college, he thought about going to military school.

Military Service

World War I

All the Roosevelt sons, except Kermit, had some military training prior to World War I. With the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914, there had been a heightened concern about the nation's readiness for military engagement. Only the month before, Congress had belatedly recognized the significance of military aviation by authorizing the creation of an Aviation Section in the Signal Corps. In 1915, Major General Leonard Wood, President Roosevelt's former commanding officer during the Spanish-American War, organized a summer camp at Plattsburgh, NY, to provide military training for business and professional men at their own expense. It would be this summer training program that would provide the basis of a greatly expanded junior officer corps when the country entered World War I. During that fateful summer of 1915, many well-heeled young men from some of the finest East Coast schools, including all three Roosevelt sons, would attend the camp. When the U.S. entered the war, commissions were offered to the graduates of these schools based on their performance. The National Defense Act of 1916 continued the student military training and the businessmen's summer camps and placed them on a firmer legal basis by authorizing an Officers' Reserve Corps and a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC).

After the declaration of war, when the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was organizing, the Roosevelt boys' father, Theodore, wired Major General "Black Jack" Pershing asking if his sons could accompany him to Europe as Privates. Pershing accepted, but, based on their training at Plattsburgh, Archie was offered a commission with rank of Second Lieutenant, while Ted, Jr., was offered a commission and the rank of Major. Quentin had already been accepted into the Army Air Service. Kermit would volunteer with the British in the area that would eventually become modern-day Iraq.

Ted, having a reserve commission in the Army (as did two of his brothers, Quentin and Archibald) was called up shortly after World War I broke out. When the U.S. declared war on Germany, Ted volunteered to be one of the first soldiers to go to France. There, Ted distinguished himself as the best battalion commander in his division, according to the division commander himself. He braved hostile fire and gas and led his battalion in combat. So concerned was he for his men's welfare that he even purchased combat boots for the entire battalion with his own money. He eventually commanded the US Army's 26th Regiment in the First Division as Lieutenant Colonel. He fought in several major battles and was gassed and wounded at Soissons, during the summer of 1918. In July of that year, his brother, Quentin, was killed in combat. Teddy received the Distinguished Service Cross for his action during the war. France conferred upon him the Chevalier Légion d'Honneur on 16 March 1919. Before the troops even came home from France, Ted was one of the originators and founders of the soldiers' organization that would become the American Legion.

When the American Legion met in New York City and Ted was nominated to become the Legion's first National Commander, he refused because he did not want his acceptance to be seen as nothing more than a political move on his part. Acceptance under such circumstances could have discredited the nascent organization and harmed Ted's own chances for a future in politics.

Ted resumed his reserve service between the wars. He attended the annual summer camps at Pine Camp and completed both the Infantry Officer's Basic and Advanced Courses. And because he also attended the Command and General Staff College, he was eligible for senior commissioned service in World War II.

World War II

In 1940, Ted attended a military refresher course offered to many businessmen as an advanced student, and was promoted to Colonel in the Army of the United States. He returned to active duty in April 1941 and was given command of the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, the same group he fought with in World War I. Late in 1941, he was promoted to Brigadier General.

North Africa Campaign

Upon his arrival in North Africa, he was soon known as a general who often visited the front lines. He had always preferred the heat of the battle to the comfort of the command post, and this attitude would culminate in his actions in France on D-Day.

On 8 November 1942 Roosevelt led his regiment in an attack on Oran, Africa. During 1943, he was the second-in-command of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division that fought in the North African Campaign under Major General Terry Allen. He was cited for the Croix de Guerre by the military commander of French Africa, General Alphonse Juin:

"As commander of a Franco-American detachment on the Ousseltia plain in the region of Pichon, in the face of a very aggressive enemy, he showed the finest qualities of decision and determination in the defense of his sector.

Showing complete contempt for personal danger, he never ceased during the period of 28 Jan - 21 Feb, visiting troops in the front lines, making vital decisions on the spot, winning the esteem and admiration of the units under his command and developing throughout his detachment the finest fraternity of arms."

Clashes with Patton

Roosevelt's collaboration and friendship with his commander, the hard-fighting, hard-drinking Allen, and their unorthodox approach to warfare, did not escape the attention of General George S. Patton. Patton disapproved of officers like Roosevelt and Allen, who "dressed down" and were seldom seen in regulation field uniforms, and who placed little value in Patton's spit-shined ways in the field. Patton thought them both un-soldierly for it and wasted no opportunity to send derogatory reports on Allen to the Supreme Allied Commander. Roosevelt was also treated by Patton as "guilty by association" for his friendship and collaboration with the highly unorthodox Allen. When Allen was relieved of command of the First Division and re-assigned, so was Roosevelt. After criticizing Terry Allen in his diary on 31 July 1943, Patton recorded that he was going to relieve both Allen and Roosevelt, noting that he had asked permission of Eisenhower "to relieve both Allen and Roosevelt on the same terms, on the theory of rotation of command," and adding, concerning Roosevelt, "there will be a kick over Teddy, but he has to go, brave but otherwise, no soldier." Roosevelt was also criticized by General Omar Bradley, who ultimately relieved both Allen and Roosevelt of their commands after he assumed command of the 7th Army. According to Bradley, in both of his autobiographies "A Soldier's Story (1951)" and "A General's Life", he claimed that relieving both Allen and Roosevelt, was one of his most unpleasant duties of the war.

Roosevelt saw action in Sicily, commanded Allied Forces in Sardinia, and fought on the Italian mainland. He was the chief liaison officer to the French Army in Italy for General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and repeatedly made requests of Eisenhower for combat command.


In February 1944, Roosevelt was assigned to England to help lead the Normandy invasion. He was assigned to the staff of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. However, he had to fight to play a role in the critical early hours of the beach landing on D-Day. The division's commanding officer, Major General Barton, was reluctant because of Roosevelt's physical condition. He had been diagnosed with arthritis in 1941, a condition resulting from his receiving a machine-gun bullet in the leg near Soissons in the summer of 1918 during WWI. And he had been recently felled by a fever that reached 103 degrees, developing into pneumonia. After several verbal requests to Maj. General "Tubby" Barton, were denied, Roosevelt sent a written petition:

"The force and skill with which the first elements hit the beach and proceed may determine the ultimate success of the operation.... With troops engaged for the first time, the behavior pattern of all is apt to be set by those first engagements. [It is] considered that accurate information of the existing situation should be available for each succeeding element as it lands. You should have when you get to shore an overall picture in which you can place confidence. I believe I can contribute materially on all of the above by going in with the assault companies. Furthermore I personally know both officers and men of these advance units and believe that it will steady them to know that I am with them."

Barton approved this letter with much misgiving, stating that he did not expect Roosevelt to return alive.

Roosevelt would be the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops. He was one of the first soldiers, along with Capt. Leonard T. Schroeder Jr., off his landing craft as he led the U.S. 4th Infantry Division's 8th Infantry Regiment and 70th Tank Battalion landing at Utah Beach. Roosevelt was soon informed that the landing craft had drifted more than a mile south of their objective, and the first wave was a mile off course. Walking with the aid of a cane and carrying a pistol, he personally made a reconnaissance of the area immediately to the rear of the beach to locate the causeways that were to be used for the advance inland. He then returned to the point of landing and contacted the commanders of the two battalions, Lt. Cols. Conrad C. Simmons and Carlton O. MacNeely, and coordinated the attack on the enemy positions confronting them. Roosevelt's famous words in these circumstances were, "We'll start the war from right here!" These impromptu plans worked with complete success and little confusion. With artillery landing close by, each follow-on regiment was personally welcomed on the beach by a cool, calm, and collected Roosevelt, who inspired all with humor and confidence, reciting poetry and telling anecdotes of his father to steady the nerves of his men. Ted pointed almost every regiment to its changed objective. Sometimes he worked under fire as a self-appointed traffic cop; untangling traffic jams of trucks and tanks all struggling to get inland and off the beach.

When General Barton, the CG of the 4th Division, came ashore, he met Roosevelt not far from the beach. He later wrote that:

"while I was mentally framing [orders], Ted Roosevelt came up. He had landed with the first wave, had put my troops across the beach, and had a perfect picture (just as Roosevelt had earlier promised if allowed to go ashore with the first wave) of the entire situation. I loved Ted. When I finally agreed to his landing with the first wave, I felt sure he would be killed. When I had bade him goodbye, I never expected to see him alive. You can imagine then the emotion with which I greeted him when he came out to meet me [near La Grande Dune]. He was bursting with information."

With his division's original plan modified on the beach, the division was able to achieve its mission objectives by simply coming ashore and attacking north behind the beach toward its original objective. Years later, General Omar Bradley was asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat, and he replied, "Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach." Originally recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross by General Barton, the award was upgraded at higher headquarters to the Medal of Honor which Roosevelt was posthumously awarded on 28 September 1944.

When Ted Roosevelt died, he had already been selected by General Dwight D. Eisenhower for promotion to Major General and orders had been cut placing him in command of the 90th Infantry Division.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Brigadier General, U.S. Army.

Place and date: Normandy invasion, 6 June 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.

Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. are one of only two sets of fathers and sons to have been awarded the Medal of Honor. The other set is Arthur and Douglas MacArthur.

Ted Roosevelt's actions on D-Day are portrayed in The Longest Day, a 1962 film in which he was played by actor Henry Fonda. The movie is based on the book of the same name, published in 1959 by Cornelius Ryan.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal with 3 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart
World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
World War Two Victory Medal

Foreign Medals and Awards

Chevalier of the Legion of Honor (France)
Croix de Guerre 1914–1918 (France)
Liberation Medal (France) (posthumous)

Distinguished Service Cross Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major (Infantry) Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (ASN: 0-139726), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action serving with the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, A.E.F., near Cantigny, France, 28 May 1918. After the completion of a raid Major Roosevelt exposed himself to intense machine-gun, rifle, and grenade fire while he went forward and assisted in rescuing a wounded member of the raiding party. At Soissons, France, 19 July 1918, he personally led the assault companies of his battalion, and although wounded in the knee he refused to be evacuated until carried off the field.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 10 (1920)

Political and Business Life

Roosevelt 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; and Vice-President at Doubleday Books.


Roosevelt married Eleanor Butler Alexander (1888-1960) on 20 June 1910. They had four children: Grace Green Roosevelt McMillan (1911-1993); Theodore Roosevelt III (1914-2001); Cornelius V.S. Roosevelt (1915-1991); and Quentin Roosevelt II (1919-1948).

Death and Burial

Throughout World War II, Roosevelt suffered from health problems. He had arthritis, mostly from old World War I injuries, and walked with a cane. He also had heart trouble. On 12 July 1944, one month after the landing at Utah Beach, he died of a heart attack in France. He was fifty-six years of age.

He is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Basse-Normandie Region, France, in Plot D, Row 28, Grave 45, next to his brother, Lt. Quentin Roosevelt. (Quentin had been killed in France during World War I and buried at Chamery, but his body was exhumed and moved to the Normandy Cemetery.)

A memorial for Roosevelt is included on his wife, Eleanor's, headstone at Young's Memorial Cemetery in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, NY.

Honoree ID: 1622   Created by: MHOH




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