Quentin Roosevelt: The Only Son Of A US President To Die In Combat Was A Fearless WWI Fighter Pilot

Published: 12 May 2024

By Christian D. Orr
via the Simple Flying website


Many U.S. Presidents have served in the military, but only one lost a son in combat. That was Quentin Roosevelt, WWI aviator, son of Teddy Roosevelt.


  •  Only two former US Presidents served as military aviators: Bush 41 and Bush 43.
  •  The tragic story of Quentin Roosevelt, lost in WWI aerial combat.
  •  Quentin was a skilled fighter pilot, gaining a confirmed kill before his untimely death.

Though many former Presidents of the United States (POTUS) have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, only two were military aviators. They were both Bushes: (1) George Herbert Walker Bush (AKA “Bush 41”), who, as the youngest U.S. Navy pilot (or Naval Aviator, to use the USN’s preferred terminology) of the Second World War, flew the prop-driven Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber; and (2) his son, George Walker Bush (AKA “Bush 43” AKA “Dubya”), who flew the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger for the Air National Guard (ANG) from 1968 to 1974.

However, only one former POTUS endured the tragedy of losing a son during combat, and by cruel twist of fate (from an aviation history buff’s standpoint, that is), that lone lost son was a combat aviator. That President was Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt AKA “TR” (whose own heroic military service with the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War predated the Wright Brothers’ first flight by five years), and his son in question was Quentin Roosevelt, a First World War fighter pilot. We now look at Quentin’s story.

NOTE: There was one other former POTUS who lost a loved one in an aerial combat-related incident: Then-USN LT Joseph P. Kennedy Jr, older brother of JFK — who himself served heroically with the USN in WWII as skipper of the PT-109 — was killed whilst piloting a specially modified B-24 Liberator during a top secret mission.

Quentin Roosevelt’s early life

Quentin Roosevelt I was born on November 19, 1897, to Theodore and Edith Roosevelt, a mere seven months before his dad’s famous Rough Rider exploit. Master Quentin was three years of age when his old man first took up residency in the Oval Office.

Theodore Roosevelt and family in 1903. Quentin Roosevelt is at left.

Inheriting his father’s intellectual prowess, Quentin gained admission to Harvard (or “HAAH-va’d, if you prefer) College in 1915. However, he ended up not graduating from that hallowed Ivy League institution, as the trumpets of WWI came a-calling, and, inspired by the military service of not only his father but his three older brothers — Theodore III AKA “Ted” (born 1887), Archibald AKA “Archie” (born 1894), and Kermit (born 1889) — all of whom had military training prior to WWI, Quentin answered that call.

Quentin’s initial WWI service and his plane of service

More specifically, in 1915, Quentin attended a camp organized by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, from there, initially serving with the 1st Reserve Aero Squadron, training in Long Island, New York before being deployed “Over There” to France as a lieutenant. Soon enough, he earned his pilot wings with the 95th Aero Squadron, a part of the 1st Pursuit Group.

Read the entire article on the Simple Flying web site.
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