Theodore Roosevelt Jr.: The Life of a War Hero
Kingseed, Cole C., Infantry
Theodore Roosevelt Jr.: The Life of a War Hero. H. Paul Jeffers. Presidio, 2001. 282 pp. $27.95. Reviewed by Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, U.S. Army, Retired
Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., was a hero of two wars. The youngest regimental commander in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) of World War I, Roosevelt also served as assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division that landed on Utah Beach on D-Day. At the time of his unexpected death from a heart attack on July 12, 1944, Roosevelt had been scheduled to assume command of the 90th Infantry Division. His premature demise generated widespread praise from the senior echelons of the Allied Expedition Force (AEF). General George Patton called Roosevelt "the bravest Soldier I ever knew."
In the first biography of the eldest son of the nation's 26th president, former broadcast journalist and historian H. Paul Jeffers has brought 'Ted" Roosevelt to life. Having written several biographies of President Theodore Roosevelt, Jeffers is well-qualified to write a biography of the president's eldest son. In a sense, the lives of father and son became intertwined, with both dedicated to a career of public service and both ultimately receiving the Medal of Honor.
Matriculating to Harvard in 1905, the younger Roosevelt accompanied his father to England following the ex-president's departure from the White House in 1909. When Congress declared war against Germany in 1914, "Teddy" resigned his position as a partner in an investment backing firm and joined the Officers' Reserve Corps. Within months, he was on his way to France as a result of a personal request from the ex-president to General John J. Pershing, the commanding general of the AEF. In France, Teddy earned his combat spurs, first in command of a battalion at Cantigny in May 1918, then as the 26th Infantry Regiment's commander in the last weeks of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. By Armistice Day, he was himself a legitimate war hero with several recommendations for medals of valor.
During the interwar period, Teddy Roosevelt remained in the forefront of publicity. Always in the footsteps of his father, he struggled to measure up to the former president. In the process he helped organize the American Legion to generate national support for a national veterans' organization and emerged as a prominent member of New York state politics. …