Published On: Thu, Nov 14th, 2019

Presidents in World War II

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There were enough future US Presidents serving in the military in WWII to almost make up their own unit. In fact everyman who was a United States President from 1953 until January 20, 1993 wore a military uniform during world war two. Of course there was General Eisenhower and Lt JG John F Kennedy who came away as heroes and used their status to help obtain office.

They were joined by Naval Aviator George HW Bush whose TBF Avenger was shot down over the Pacific and fellow republicans Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon who also served as naval aviation officers although neither saw as much action as Bush. Ronald Regan, who had been in the Army reserves since 1935, was called up in November 1941 but was disqualified for combat duty because of his astigmatism. Nevertheless the Gipper served in the First Motion Picture Unit with the Army and made training films, leaving the service as a Captain. Democrat LB Johnson, while still holding a seat in the House, became an officer in the Naval Reserve and earned a controversial silver star while on an Army Air Corps B-26 in New Guinea.

Jimmy Carter started his career in public service as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy during the war but did not earn his bar until 1946 when he graduated 59th /820. Carter was just nine months too late for combat.

Former President Herbert Hoover, who had smashed the Bonus Army offered his services to the war effort but they were declined. He was the only former US President alive during World War Two; Harding, Wilson, Taft and Coolidge all having past away before the war.

While Franklin Delano was commander and chief of the whole armed forces, the rest of the Roosevelt family itself was also well represented. Teddy Roosevelt’s first son Theodore Roosevelt Jr, already a WWI veteran, was the only general on D-Day to land with the first wave of troops. He was later posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Teddy’s second son Kermit, after serving with the British Army became a major in the American one attached to the Intelligence Corps.

His brother Archibald B Roosevelt had his knee shattered in New Guinea while a Colonel in the 41st Infantry Division. FDR Jr was decorated as a naval officer at the Battle of Casablanca while Archibald B Roosevelt, Jr was an intelligence officer with the Army at the same battle. Elliott Roosevelt was a P-38 pilot and oddly enough witnessed the death of fellow army pilot and future presidential sibling Joseph Kennedy Jr.

Presidents in World War II

Two men whose grandfathers had faced each other in battle almost a hundred years before were reunited in service to their country. Presidential grandson Ulysses S Grant III served in army as a Major General of engineers while Nathan Bedford Forrest III served as a Brigadier General in the Army Air Force. Forrest lost his life in 1943 while leading a B-17 raid against Kiel and was the first American general to be killed in the War. Their grandfathers had faced each other in battle in Tennessee and Mississippi during the Civil War.

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