Original U.S. WWI Army Air Service Aviator Quentin Roosevelt Uniform Set - Son of President Theodore Roosevelt
Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This extraordinary grouping comes from the phenomenal "named uniform collection" originating from Indiana from which we purchased; Eddie Rickenbacker's WW1 Visor Cap, Jimmy Stewart's WW2 Army Air Force Uniform, Sergeant Bilko's 1955 Phil Silver's Show Visor cap, Frank Luke’s WWI visor cap, General Patton’s WWII garrison cap, and WW2 Captain of the Enola Gay Paul Tibbet’s uniform, all of which sold in a matter of days.
Quentin Roosevelt (November 19, 1897 July 14, 1918) was the youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt. Family and friends agreed that Quentin had many of his father's positive qualities and few of the negative ones. Inspired by his father and siblings, he joined the United States Army Air Service where he became a pursuit pilot during World War I. Extremely popular with his fellow pilots and known for being daring, he was killed in aerial combat over France on Bastille Day (July 14), 1918.
This named uniform set consists of the following pieces-
Tunic complete with insignia and wings bearing a manufacture’s label that reads KLING, CHICAGO. On the inside clearly printed on a cloth tag is the name QUENTIN ROOSEVELT.
Inside one of the tunic pockets we found another badge of a single wing attached to a U.S. shield. On the rear of the badge is stamped the initials Q.R.
Visor cap, again offered in wonderful condition with the name QUENTIN ROOSEVELT printed/impressed into the leather headband.
Rich brown leather high quality Sam Browne waist and cross belt, the inner surface also marked in print QUENTIN ROOSEVELT.
This is a terrific grouping from a 20 year-old American blue blood that gave his life for his country during the First World War. Accompanying this offering is a folder of detailed photographs of this set and the individual markings together with printed online research.
History of Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt-
Quentin attended the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Later he was a student at the Evans School for Boys and the Groton School.
Quentin consistently scored high marks and displayed the intellectual prowess of his father. He was admitted to Harvard University in 1915. By the time Quentin was a sophomore at Harvard, also like his father, he was showing promise as a writer. Quentin was posthumously awarded an A.B. (War Degree) by Harvard, Class of 1919.
All the Roosevelt sons had military training prior to World War I. With the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914, there was a heightened concern about the nation's readiness for military engagement. Only the month before, Congress had belatedly recognized the significance of military aviation by authorizing the creation of an Aviation Section in the Signal Corps. In 1915 Major General Leonard Wood, a friend of Theodore Roosevelt since the Rough Rider days, organized a summer camp at Plattsburg, New York, to provide military training for business and professional men at their own expense. It would be this summer training program that would provide the basis of a greatly expanded junior officers corps when the Country entered World War I. During August 1915, many well-heeled young men from some of the finest East Coast schools, including Quentin Roosevelt and two of his brothers, attended the Camp. When the United States entered the War, commissions were offered to the graduates of these schools based on their performance. The National Defense Act of 1916 continued the student military training and the businessmen's summer camps and placed them on a firmer legal basis by authorizing an Officers' Reserve Corps and a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). Quentin, just out of the rigors of Groton and Harvard, did not really enjoy the training, but stuck it out anyway.
After the declaration of War, when the American Expeditionary Force was organizing, T.R. wired Major General "Black Jack" Pershing and volunteered to form a division and have his sons accompany him to Europe as privates. Pershing, who was a friend of Roosevelt dating back to the Cuban campaign, and had served under him when T.R. was Commander in Chief, accepted the proposal, but the War Department, and President Woodrow Wilson, overrode the decision. Roosevelt took the issue to Congress, but Wilson prevailed. In the end, all four of Roosevelt sons served in World War I as officers, but "Colonel" Roosevelt spent the war making speeches for the Red Cross.
With American entry into World War I, Quentin thought his mechanical skills would be useful to the Army. Just engaged to Flora, he dropped out of college in May 1917 to join the newly formed 1st Reserve Aero Squadron, the first air reserve unit in the nation. He trained on Long Island at an airfield later renamed Roosevelt Field in his honor. Today, a shopping mall sits on the site that is also named Roosevelt Field.
Finally sent to France, Lt. Roosevelt first helped in setting up the large Air Service training base at Issoudun. He was a supply officer and then over time ran one of the training airfields. Eventually he became a pilot in the 95th Aero Squadron, part of the 1st Pursuit Group. The unit was posted to Touquin, France and on July 9, 1918, Saints, France. During the time that he was flying from Saints, he was billeted just half a mile away at Melina Thibault's home in Mauperthuis, France where he roomed with supply officer Ed Thomas. Roosevelt had one confirmed kill of a German aircraft he shot down on July 10, 1918. Four days later, in a massive aerial engagement at the commencement of the Second Battle of the Marne, he was himself shot down behind German lines.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, Commander of the 94th Aero Squadron (also known as the "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron), in his memoirs described Roosevelt's character as soldier and pilot in the following words:
"As President Roosevelt's son he had rather a difficult task to fit himself in with the democratic style of living which is necessary in the intimate life of an aviation camp. Every one who met him for the first time expected him to have the airs and superciliousness of a spoiled boy. This notion was quickly lost after the first glimpse one had of Quentin. Gay, hearty and absolutely square in everything he said or did, Quentin Roosevelt was one of the most popular fellows in the group. We loved him purely for his own natural self.
"He was reckless to such a degree that his commanding officers had to caution him repeatedly about the senselessness of his lack of caution. His bravery was so notorious that we all knew he would either achieve some great spectacular success or be killed in the attempt. Even the pilots in his own flight would beg him to conserve himself and wait for a fair opportunity for a victory. But Quentin would merely laugh away all serious advice."
Quentin's plane (a Nieuport 28) was shot down in aerial combat over Chamery, near Coulonges-en-Tardenois. He was felled by two machine gun bullets that struck him in the head. The German military buried him with full battlefield honors. Since the plane had crashed so near the front lines, they used two pieces of basswood saplings, bound together with wire from his Nieuport, to fashion a cross for his grave. For propaganda purposes, they made a postcard of the dead pilot and his plane. However, this was met with shock in Germany, which still held Theodore Roosevelt in high respect and was impressed that a former president's son died on active duty. According to his service record, the site was at Marne Grave #1 Isolated Commune #102, Coulongue Aisne. The French government awarded him the Croix de Guerre with Palm.
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