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Theodore Roosevelt Jr.'s Life Portrayed By Henry Fonda in 'The Longest Day'

By    |   Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 03:03 PM

President Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest son, Brig. Gen. Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt Jr., was the only general to land on Utah Beach with the first wave of troops on D-Day, a heroic effort that was portrayed by Henry Fonda in the 1962 film “The Longest Day.”

Roosevelt Jr. was a noted politician and business leader who fought in both the World Wars. His experience includes time as New York state assemblyman, assistant secretary of the Navy, governor of Puerto Rico, governor general of the Philippines, chairman of American Express Company, and vice president at Doubleday Books, according to the Almanac of Theodore Roosevelt.

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His verbal requests to lead the invasion on Utah Beach had been repeatedly denied by Major General Barton, who feared Roosevelt Jr. would not survive the battle. Barton approved a written request, and Roosevelt Jr. led the U.S. 4th Infantry Division's 8th Infantry Regiment and the 70th Tank Battalion in the invasion. Roosevelt Jr. earned a Medal of Honor posthumously for "gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty," according to the United States Army Center of Military History.

“The Longest Day,” produced by Darryl E. Zanuck and also starring John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, portrays the events of D-Day in what The New York Times likened to "a huge documentary report, adorned and colored by personal details that are thrilling, amusing, ironic, sad."

The Twentieth Century-Fox film gives ample time to each of the characters, including Roosevelt Jr., played by Henry Fonda.

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Roosevelt Jr. was 57 at the time of the landing, the oldest soldier to land at Normandy. His son, Quentin Roosevelt II, also took park in the Allied invasion at Normandy.

Walking with the assistance of a cane, Roosevelt Jr. inspired troops with his courageous and calm leadership.

Discovering that they had drifted and were about a mile from where they planned to invade, Roosevelt Jr. is widely credited with saying: "We'll start the war from right here."

Once the beachhead was secure, Gen. Barton came ashore and shared an emotional greeting with Roosevelt Jr., according to Ivy House Utah Beach Normandy.

Roosevelt Jr. died of a heart attack on July 12, 1944, shortly after the D-Day invasion, and was buried next to his brother Quentin Roosevelt, who was shot down and killed during World War I.



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President Theodore Roosevelt's eldest son, Brig. Gen. Theodore "Ted" Roosevelt Jr., was the only general to land on Utah Beach with the first wave of troops on D-Day, a heroic effort that was portrayed by Henry Fonda in the 1962 film "The Longest Day."
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