Theodore Roosevelt III¬† September 13, 1887‚ÄďJuly 12, 1944


✪ Theodore Roosevelt III, often known as Theodore Jr., was an American government, business and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt. Roosevelt is known for his World War II service, including the directing of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings, for which he received the Medal of Honor.

Roosevelt was educated in private academies and at¬†Harvard University. After his 1909 graduation from college, he began a successful career in business and investment banking. Having gained pre‚ÄďWorld War I¬†army experience during his attendance at a¬†Citizens’ Military Training Camp, at the start of the war he received a reserve commission as a¬†major. He served primarily with the¬†1st Division, took part in several engagements including the¬†Battle of Cantigny, and commanded the 1st Battalion,¬†26th Infantry¬†as a¬†lieutenant colonel. After the war, Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of¬†The American Legion. In addition to his military and business careers, Roosevelt was active in politics and government. He served as¬†Assistant Secretary of the Navy¬†(1921‚Äď1924),¬†Governor of Puerto Rico¬†(1929‚Äď1932), and¬†Governor-General of the Philippines¬†(1932‚Äď1933). He resumed his business endeavors in the 1930s, and was¬†Chairman of the Board¬†of¬†American Express¬†Company, and vice-president of¬†Doubleday Books. Roosevelt also remained active as an Army reservist, attending annual training periods at¬†Pine Camp, and completing the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, and refresher training for senior officers. He returned to active duty for World War II with the rank of¬†colonel, and commanded the 26th Infantry. He soon received promotion to brigadier general as assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry Division.

Ted was the eldest son of President¬†Theodore Roosevelt¬†and First Lady¬†Edith Kermit Carow.¬†He was born at the family estate in¬†Cove Neck,¬†Oyster Bay, New York, when his father was just starting his political career. As a son of President Theodore Roosevelt, he has been referred to as “Jr,” but he was actually Theodore III and one of his own sons was Theodore IV.¬†

Like all the Roosevelt children, Ted was tremendously influenced by his father. In later life, Ted recorded some of these childhood recollections in a series of newspaper articles written around the time of World War I. When Ted was a child, his father initially expected more of him than of his siblings One day when he was about nine, his father gave him a rifle. When Ted asked if it were real, his father loaded it and shot a bullet into the ceiling.

The Roosevelt boys attended private schools; Ted went to The Albany Academy, and then Groton School. Before he went to college, he thought about going to military school. Although not naturally called to academics, he persisted and graduated from Harvard College in 1909, where, like his father, he joined the Porcellian Club.

After graduating from college, Ted entered the business world. He took positions in the steel and carpet businesses before becoming 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 generated by his investments positioned him well for a career in politics after the War.

All the Roosevelt sons, except Kermit, had some military training prior to World War I. With the outbreak of World War I in Europe in August 1914, American leaders had heightened concern about their nation’s readiness for military engagement. Only the month before, Congress had authorized the creation of an¬†Aviation Section in the Signal Corps.

After the¬†United States declaration of war on Germany, when the¬†American Expeditionary Forces¬†(AEF) was organizing, Theodore Roosevelt wired Major General¬†John “Black Jack” Pershing, the newly appointed commander of the AEF, asking if his sons could accompany him to Europe as privates. Pershing accepted.

When the United States declared war on the¬†German Empire, Ted volunteered to be one of the first soldiers to go to the¬†Western Front. There, he was recognized as the best battalion commander in his division, according to the division commander. Roosevelt braved hostile fire and gas and led his battalion in combat. So concerned was he for his men’s welfare that he purchased¬†combat boots¬†for the entire battalion with his own money.¬†

Ted was gassed and wounded at¬†Soissons¬†during the summer of 1918. In July of that year, his youngest brother Quentin was killed in combat. Ted received the¬†Distinguished Service Cross¬†for his actions during the war, which ended on¬†November 11, 1918¬†at 11:00¬†am. France conferred upon him the¬†Chevalier L√©gion d’honneur¬†on March 16, 1919. Before the troops came home from France, Ted was one of the founders of the soldiers’ organization that developed as The American Legion.

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 the Command and General Staff College. By the beginning of World War II, in September 1939, he was eligible for senior commissioned service.

In 1919 he became a member of the Empire State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

After service in World War I, Roosevelt began his political career. On March 10, 1921, Roosevelt was appointed by President¬†Warren G. Harding¬†as¬†Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He oversaw the transferring of oil leases for¬†federal lands¬†in Wyoming and California from the Navy to the¬†Department of Interior, and ultimately, to private corporations. Established as the Navy’s petroleum reserves by President Taft. At the¬†1924 New York state election, Roosevelt was the Republican nominee for¬†Governor of New York.

In September 1929, President¬†Herbert Hoover¬†appointed Roosevelt as¬†Governor of Puerto Rico, and he served until 1932. Impressed with his work in Puerto Rico, President Hoover appointed Roosevelt as¬†Governor-General of the Philippines¬†in 1932. During his time in office, Roosevelt acquired the nickname “One Shot Teddy” among the Filipino population, in reference to his marksmanship during a hunt for¬†tamaraw¬†(wild pygmy water buffalo).

In 1935, he returned to the United States and first became a vice president of the publishing house Doubleday, Doran & Company. He next served as an executive with American Express. He also served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. 

In 1940, during World War II (although the United States had not yet entered the war and remained neutral) Roosevelt 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.

Roosevelt returned to active duty in April 1941 and was given command of the 26th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Infantry Division, the same unit he fought with in World War I. Late in 1941, he was promoted to brigadier general.

In February 1944, Roosevelt was assigned to¬†England¬†to help lead the¬†Normandy invasion¬†and appointed Deputy Division Commander of the¬†4th Infantry Division. After several verbal requests to the division’s¬†Commanding General¬†(CG), Major General¬†Raymond “Tubby” Barton, to go ashore on D-Day with the Division were denied,

Roosevelt was the only general on D-Day to land by sea with the first wave of troops. At 56, he was the oldest man in the invasion, and the only one whose son also landed that day

By modifying his division’s original plan on the beach, Roosevelt enabled its troops to achieve their mission objectives by coming ashore and attacking north behind the beach toward its original objective. Years later,¬†Omar Bradley¬†was asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat. He replied, “Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach.”

Throughout World War II, Roosevelt suffered from numerous health problems. He had arthritis, mostly from old World War I injuries, and often walked with a cane. He also had heart trouble, which he kept secret from army doctors and his superiors.

On July 12, 1944, a little over one month after the landing at Utah Beach, Roosevelt died of a heart attack in France,

Roosevelt was initially buried at¬†Sainte-M√®re-√Čglise.¬†Later, Roosevelt was buried at the¬†American Cemetery in Normandy, initially created for the Americans killed in Normandy during the invasion.

In 1955, his family had his body exhumed and moved to the Normandy cemetery, where he was re-interred beside his brother. Ted also has a cenotaph near the grave of his parents at Youngs Memorial Cemetery in Oyster Bay. ✪

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