James Roosevelt II (December 23, 1907 – August 13, 1991) was the oldest son of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was a United States Congressman, an officer in the United States Marine Corps, an aide to his father, the official Secretary to the President, a Democratic Party activist, and a businessman with varied interests. He received the Navy Cross and the Silver Star for extraordinary heroism while serving as a Marine Corps officer during World War II
In April 1941, President Roosevelt sent his son on a secret, world-circling diplomatic mission to assure numerous governments that the United States would soon be in the war. James met, among others, Chiang Kai-shek, King Farouk of Egypt, and King George of Greece. During this trip, James came under German air attack in both Crete and in Iraq. In the African/Middle Eastern portion of the mission, he travelled with Britain's Lord Mountbatten as far as Bathurst in the Gambia. They reported on trans-African air ferry conditions, an important concern of FDR and Winston Churchill at the time.
Jimmy's actions also served another purpose.—they proved to be a morale booster back in the States. Jimmy Roosevelt’s heroic exploits at Makin Island made headlines in the Washington, D.C. and New York newspapers. His naysayers now honored him in the national press as a “fighting” guy.
After Makin Island, Jimmy returned to Pearl Harbor for a short stay and shipped out on the USS WHARTON arriving at New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in September 1942. He saw further action at Midway and the Aleutian Islands before being assigned to Camp Pendleton, California as Second Marine Raider Battalion Executive Officer. He received appointment as Commanding Officer of the newly formed Fourth Marine Raider Battalion on October 23, 1942.
Jimmy was plagued with stomach ailments which kept him out of combat late in the war. In 1945, after training Marines at Camp Pendleton, Jimmy Roosevelt received orders to Philippines. While there, working as an intelligence officer tasked with helping to prepare for the invasion of Okinawa, he learned of his father’s death.
On August 13, 1945, Colonel James Roosevelt was discharged from active military service with the United States Marine Corps, completing 26 months of wartime combat duty.
After the war, Jimmy joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and retired at the rank of Brigadier General in 1959.