This father-son team invaded Africa and Normandy together

It’s Father’s Day, and while many fathers and sons may spend today together, their activities probably won’t involve fighting a war.

Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt. He had served, along with his brothers, with distinction in World War I. When World War II began, he rejoined the Army and was appointed the rank of colonel after taking a refresher course in military strategy. He was later promoted to brigadier general and assigned as the 1st Infantry Division Assistant Commander.

His youngest son, Capt. Quentin Roosevelt II, was also in the 1st Inf. Div., serving as an artillery officer.

North Africa Campaign

Invasion of North Africa Operation Torch ship destroyed in landings after german bombers strike it

Photo: US Army Lt. Longini

The “Big Red One,” as the division was called, landed at Oran, Algeria in early November, 1942. The division fought numerous battles in the back and forth fighting in North Africa. Capt. Roosevelt and Brig. Gen. Roosevelt earned three Silver Stars during the campaign.

The first went to Capt. Roosevelt for his part in the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, commanding the Axis Forces, had set his sights on seizing Tunis and reversing his earlier losses. To do so, he attacked through Kasserine Pass, a two-mile gap in the mountains defended by U.S. troops. He was rebuffed on his first attempt, but armored reinforcements helped him force his way through on Feb. 20, 1943.

Battle of Kasserine Pass US soldiers walk down a road in the pass

Photo: US Army

In the defense of the pass, Capt. Roosevelt was an artillery liaison officer attached to an infantry battalion under heavy machine gun and mortar fire. He pushed through the thick of it and established a forward observation post ahead of the battalion. From there, he directed artillery fire on enemy positions until he was shot through the back by Messerschmitt aircraft fire.

Brig. Gen. Roosevelt would earn the next two Silver Stars for the family. His first was earned on March 22 when he, like his son, manned an observation post under enemy fire. German dive bombers, fighter planes, and artillery were all firing on the observation post as part of a German assault when the brigadier general arrived. He rallied the troops and directed friendly artillery assets, stopping the Germans.

The next day, he personally led a reinforced combat team against enemy machine gun positions, moving ahead of each assault wave to show the way and earning another Silver Star, his fourth.

Awards, recovery, and relief of position

Both men received their awards during a dual ceremony in North Africa. Brig. Gen. Roosevelt went on to invade Sicily with the 1st Division while Capt. Roosevelt recovered from his wounds. Unfortunately, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt would soon be relieved of his position by then-Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley due to a perceived lack of discipline in the 1st Infantry Division (page 47-48).

Capt. Roosevelt would recover from his wounds in only a few months and return to service with the Big Red One. Brig. Gen. Roosevelt served as a liaison officer to French forces before being reassigned to the 4th Infantry Division for D-Day.

D-Day

D-Day valor beach landings normandy amphibious assault

Photo: Wiki Commons

On D-Day, both men were among the 150,000 who hit the beaches and are thought to be the only father-son pair in the invasion. Capt. Roosevelt landed at Omaha Beach while Brig. Gen. Roosevelt landed at Utah Beach.

At Omaha Beach, Capt. Roosevelt was in some of the thickest fighting of the day. Adverse weather, an ineffective naval and aerial bombardment, and tough terrain combined to make Omaha Beach the toughest nut to crack. Allied Forces took approximately 10,000 casualties at the beach.

Meanwhile at Utah Beach, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt’s efforts were considered key to victory. He landed with the first wave of troops despite the fact that his division commander had denied his initial requests twice, only acquiescing after the brigadier general submitted a written request. Maj. Gen. Barton, 4th Infantry Division Commander, would later comment, “When I bade him goodbye in England, I never expected to see him again alive.

Brig Gen Theodore Roosevelt D Day Medal of Honor Normandy Hero Army Omaha Beach Cane

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Brig. Gen. Roosevelt had not only survived the initial landings, but he was instrumental in their success. The only general officer to land in the first wave on D-Day, he began by leading the initial waves in assaults against the German positions. As each new wave landed, he would link up with them on the beach, lead them over the seawall, and assist in the wave’s assault. By the time Barton arrived on the beach, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt had a firm grasp of the situation and the destruction of the German positions was under way.

When Gen. Bradley was leaving the military, he was asked what the bravest thing he’d ever seen was and responded with, “Theodore Roosevelt Jr. at Utah Beach.

For his actions at Utah Beach, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt was nominated for advancement to major general, the Medal of Honor, and command of the 90th Infantry Division (p. 49). Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack just hours before Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called to give him the news. His Medal of Honor was approved and given to his wife.

Capt. Roosevelt would go on to be promoted to major and would survive the war.

NOW:7 crazy facts you didn’t know about the D-Day invasion >

OR: The 36 best World War II photos you’ve never seen >

TOP ARTICLES
This is the latest version of the M9 service pistol

The M9A3 offers a bigger magazine, a user-friendly grip, and a host of improvements based on lessons learned from over three decades of service.

This is what the DoD has planned for a zombie apocalypse

It does touch on many of the pop culture elements of zombie lore, but it breaks things down to become applicable to most situations that would similar to an actual outbreak.

Some dirtbags messed with an Iwo Jima memorial — and Marines caught 'em on film

Officials say an Iwo Jima memorial in Fall River was doused with the contents of a fire extinguisher last weekend. Police are investigating

Vets are going to get a new ID card, and they'll be ready for use next month

The new identification card will provide employers looking to hire veterans with an easier way to verify an employee's military service.

This is the story behind the rise and fall of the Islamic State group

The Islamic State group, responsible for some of the worst atrocities perpetrated against civilians in recent history, appears on the verge of collapse.

Now the Iraqi army is going after the Kurdish forces who helped beat ISIS

Iraqi federal and Kurdish forces exchanged fire on Oct. 20, capping a dramatic week that saw the Kurds hand over territory across Northern Iraq.

This Kurdish female militia refuses to stop its hunt for ISIS terrorists

A Kurdish female militia, after helping free the city of Raqqa, said it will continue the fight to liberate women from the extremists’ brutal rule.

The US just sent nearly 1M bombs and missiles to Guam — here's why

Hint: There's this guy a few thousand miles away who's threatening to lob a nuke in their direction.

This is what the 400 US troops in Somalia are actually up to

The US has quadrupled its military presence in Somalia after Al-Shabab killed nearly 300 civilians in two truck bombings. Half of them are special ops troops.

The war between the US Army and Magpul is heating up over ice

Magpul officials are calling foul on the Army's claim that its rifle magazines don't work in the cold — and they say they can prove it.