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Father and son: citizen warriors.

ON July 1, 1898, LTC Theodore Roosevelt performed an act of heroism great enough for him to receive the nation's highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor.

It then took 103 years for one of his descendants to have the medal presented to him. That presentation was more than 56 years alter Roosevelt's son posthumously received the same decoration

The elder Roosevelt received the medal for his actions during the Spanish-American War at San Juan Hill, Cuba, while in command of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Calvary Regiment, better known as the Rough Riders. Roosevelt led the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill and into the pages of American history. This charge also led to his becoming the president of the United Slates. The 2001 presentation made him the first U.S. president to be a Medal of Honor recipient.

His son, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War 11 at Utah Beach. France, on June 6, 1994, while serving as assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division. Then a brigadier general, Roosevelt was in the first wave at Utah Beach. He was the first general of liter to land on a Normandy beach on D-Day.

The Roosevelts were the second set of father and son Medal of Honor recipients in U.S. military history. The first pair was Arthur and Douglas MacArthur for their respective acts of heroism at Missionary Ridge, Tenn., during the Civil War and in the Philippines during World War 11.

The Father

Theodore Roosevelt resigned his post as assistant secretary of the Navy at the beginning of the Spanish-American War to accept a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Rough Riders, which he helped recruit, organize, train and lead to Cuba. When the regimental commander, COL Leonard Wood, himself a Medal of Honor recipient, was promoted to brigade command in Cuba, Roosevelt moved up to command the Rough Riders.

Roosevelt led the Rough Riders up Keltic Hill and San Juan Hill, lighting alongside the Regulars of the 1st, 9th and 10th U.S. Car. regiments, the latter two units being the famed 'Buffalo Soldiers." His heroism that day was inspiring, as he conspicuously put himself in front of his troops to lead them up the slopes, both on horseback--the only man to be mounted and thus a prime target for Spanish fire--and on foot.

The charge up San Juan Hill became one of the most celebrated feats in American history, and Roosevelt became one of the most famous men in America. This helped him to become governor of New York in 1898 and President William McKinley's running mate in 1900.

Roosevelt succeeded McKinley after McKinley's assassination in 1901. The new president was just 42 years old. He was elected in his own right in 1904 and is recognized as one of the most dynamic presidents this country has ever had. He was also the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. which he did in 1906 for his role in ending the Russo-Japanese War of 1905.

Roosevelt left the White House ill 1909 but ran for president again in 1912 as a third-party candidate. Woodrow Wilson won that year. Roosevelt volunteered to raise and lead a volunteer division to France in 1917 but Wilson turned him down. All four of Roosevelts sons fought in combat in World War I and his daughter served as a Red Cross nurse in France. Quentin Roosevelt, the youngest son and an Army fighter pilot, was killed in action on July 14. 1918,

The old Rough Rider died on Jan. 6, 1919. at the age of 60.

Although recommended by his entire chain of command for the Medal of Honor soon after the Baltic of San Juan Hill, the recommendation was turned down by the War Department. It is believed that Roosevelt's criticism el the secretary of war resulted in him being denied the medal then. More than a century later and after years of efforts to give Roosevelt the decoration his actions deserved, President Bill Clinton presented a posthumous Medal of Honor to Roosevelt's great grandson at the While House on Jan. 16, 2001.

The Son

Theodore Roosevelt's service as a citizen soldier lasted for a few months in 1898. His namesake's service we In the Organized Reserves, as the Army Reserve was then called, lasted more than 25 years, from before World War I until his death during World War II.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. served in combat in both world wars, earning every combat decoration available to a ground soldier. During World War I he commanded a battalion of the 26th US Inf. Regiment, 1st Inf. Div., and then the regiment itself. He was gassed and severely wounded during combat in France. He was decorated live times.

Recalled to active duty in April 1941, Roosevelt first commanded his old World War I regiment tulle his promotion to brigadier general. He then became the assistant division commander of the 1st Inf. Div.

He served with the Big Red One throughout the North African and Sicily campaigns until both he and the division commander, MG Terry Allen, were ere relieved by GEN Dwight D. Eisenhower. They were both recognized as outstanding leaders and their reliefs were "without prejudice." Eisenhower felt these two veteran and proven commanders were tired and needed a rent from combat. Both soon returned to combat leadership positions, however, with Allen as commander of the 104th Inf. Div. (Organized Reserve) and Roosevelt as assistant division commander of the 4th Inf. Div.

When Roosevelt joined the 4th Div. it was preparing for a key role on D-Day, all assault landing on Utah Beach. Roosevelt insisted on going in with the fist wave to "steady the boys." MG Raymond Barton, the division commander, recognized that Roosevelt was considered one of the bravest men in the Army. Barton believed Roosevelt's presence could be a steadying influence for the assault troops, so he eventually granted the request, though he thought he was sending the 56-year-old Roosevelt to his death.

Leading the Way

On the morning of June 6, 1944. Roosevelt landed with the first wave on Utah Beach. He seemed to be everywhere, rallying hesitant soldiers and leading groups of men inland, despite German small arms, mortar and artillery fire. His lack of concern for his own safety respired his troops.

He also made an important command decision. Realizing the first wave had been landed at the wrong place, he directed the follow-up waves to land behind the first wave, rather than adjusting to the correct landing spot. The original spot was heavily defended and this decision prevented Utah Beach from turning into the bloodbath that Omaha Beach had become.

For his courage and leadership on D-Day, Roosevelt received the Medal of Honor. By the lime it was awarded, on Sept. 28, 1944, he was dead. Roosevelt, who had a bad heart and should not have been anywhere near a combat zone, died of a heart attack in Normandy on July 12.

He never knew that he had been selected that same day to take command of the 90th Inf. Div. (Organized Reserve).

Neither father nor son ever wore the medal that a grateful nation presented to them tot answering the call to duty.

COL Randy Pullen is the chief of the Print/Web Communications Division in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs.
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Author:Pullen, Randy
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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