As general go, not many can claim they ran into battle at the front of their troops. As warfare changed, so did military strategy: a general was required to stand back and coordinate the attack. Long gone were the medieval days where the morale boost of your King running at the front line could win the war. But General Roosevelt Jr did just that, it didn’t matter that he needed a cane to walk, he landed with the first wave of soldiers on Utah Beach for the famous D-Day. As a result, he was the only World War II general to land with his troops that day.
The eldest son of American President Theodore Roosevelt, General Roosevelt Jr actually fought in both World War 1 and World War 2. Before the allied landings in Normandy, he was stationed in England and repeatedly requested to lead the attack. Major General Barton repeatedly refused this request until finally he gave up and agreed: advising that he did not expect Roosevelt to live.
By June 6th, 1944, Roosevelt Jr was not in the best of health: suffering from arthritis and a heart condition. He still proved he was a capable leader, even when they landed in the wrong area he stated:
“We’ll start the war from right here!”
Which was a stroke of genius as his decision to start battle was a great move for the Allied forces? Many of the Germans had been redeployed to deal with the paratroopers, meaning the coastal defenses were much weaker. The general famously survived the fighting and went down to greet General Barton when he came ashore. On July 12th, 1944, after more fierce fighting he died of a heart attack and was buried at the Omaha Beach American Cemetery.
He was actually buried next to his brother Quentin Roosevelt who was killed in the first World War. And for his immense bravery, he was awarded a Medal of Honor.