Today in History, July 14: 1918 – US Airman Quentin Roosevelt, youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt, dies when he is shot down over France in WWI. The German military returned his affects to President Roosevelt, and the French wanted to erect a monument to Quentin. He and his brothers, who all served in WWI were very competitive in the voracity of their service, trying to live up to their father’s exploits…Rough Rider, etc.
The back story is interesting. TR had been a sickly child who nobody expected to become much. But he was a fighter. He forced himself to exercise through severe pain until he became “barrel chested” and strong. He led an incredibly busy life, full speed throughout. His youngest son Quentin struggled with some of the same challenges.
After TR’s presidency, TR went on an treacherous exploring expedition in South America, putting the dangerous “River of Doubt” on the map. Quentin went with him, aiding his father through deprivations that nearly killed the elder Roosevelt.
TR wanted to go to war for his country when WW1 began, but President Wilson, of the opposite political party, would not allow it, afraid TR would gain favor and face him in the next election.
TR wouldn’t live that long…and he spent the intervening time heartbroken over the loss of his youngest son.
All of the boys had served on the front lines in France. And 26 years later General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr had to pull strings so he would be allowed to go ashore with the unit he commanded at Normandy on D-Day. Within days he was dead of a heart attack.