Teddy Roosevelt’s son served in WWI & was the oldest soldier to fight on D-Day

Published: 8 January 2024

via the History Facts web site

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt Jr. (1887-1944), the son of President Theodore Roosevelt served in World War I (in Doughboy uniform at left in 1918) and during World War II (at right in WWII uniform in 1944).

The Medal of Honor recipient, who General George Patton called “one of the bravest men I ever knew,” also served in World War I

General George S. Patton and General Ted Roosevelt, Jr. pose for a photographer during combat in Sicily. Photo: National Archives.

More than 130,000 Allied troops landed at Normandy as part of D-Day, but only one of them was the son of a former U.S. President: Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who also held the distinction of being the oldest soldier to deploy. He was born on September 13, 1887, making the brigadier general 56 years old when he asked to land with the first wave. After two verbal requests were denied, Roosevelt submitted a written petition, in which he wrote, “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.”

High command finally relented, and Roosevelt landed on Utah Beach equipped with his walking cane and service pistol on June 6, 1944. Later, soldiers from his unit indeed credited his “calm and humorous demeanor” with helping them push through. Roosevelt was already a decorated veteran at this point, having served with distinction in World War I, but his military career was cut short when he suffered a fatal heart attack barely a month after D-Day. General George Patton hailed him as one of the bravest men he ever knew, and Roosevelt received a posthumous Medal of Honor on September 21, 1944. His son Quentin Roosevelt II stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, making them the only father-son duo to take part in the Normandy landings.

The “D” in D-Day doesn’t really stand for anything

Though you might logically assume it stands for any number of terms, from “deployment” or “disembarkation” to “departure” or “doom,” the “D” in D-Day doesn’t exactly stand for anything. The most likely explanation is that the “D” was a redundancy, and simply means “day.” The term dates back to World War I as a placeholder for the start of a military operation, and “H-Hour” was also used to specify the exact time an operation would occur.

In addition to keeping such details out of enemy hands, these vague terms allowed some flexibility when planning attacks whose actual start times could change at the last minute.

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