American Fighter Pilot Quentin Roosevelt

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, a pilot with the 95th “Kicking Mule” Aero Squadron of the 1st Pursuit Group, was a natural leader. The youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt, Quentin was often described as the child most like his father. When he was killed in action on July 14, 1918, he was just 20 years old.

    Like many other young fliers, Quentin worked hard to get into the fighting, and he resented rumors that he and his three older brothers were going to war for publicity’s sake. On occasion he was also taunted by his own brothers, who reached the front lines before he did, then called him a slacker.

    But instead of being sent into combat as soon as he fully qualified as a pilot, the youngest Roosevelt son was initially made a flight instructor. His students reportedly admired his sense of humor as well as his aerobatic skills. He would zoom up above them, observe their technique, then be back on the ground—ready to critique their performance—before they could land.

    When Quentin Roosevelt finally left the training base on his way to the front, all the students lined up to wish him farewell, cheering and promising to rescue him if he were captured. He wrote home, “So I left with a big lump in my throat, for it’s nice to know that your men have liked you.”

    On July 5, during his initial foray into combat, Roosevelt got his first taste of excitement. His Nieuport 28’s engine malfunctioned, and he came close enough to a German fighter to see the red stripes around its fuselage. “I’m free to confess I was scared blue,” he wrote home. “I was behind the formation and he had all the altitude. So I pushed on the stick, prayed for motor, and watched out of the corner of my eye to see his elevators go down, and have his tracers shooting by me. However, for some reason, he didn’t attack, instead he took a few general shots at the lot and then swung back to his formation.”

    When Roosevelt took a different plane up later on the 5th, his gun jammed. His squadron mates shot down a German plane and lost two of their own in the course of that day. “I was doubtful before, for I thought I might get cold feet or something, but you don’t,” he wrote after his first dose of combat. “You get so excited that you forget everything except getting the other fellow, and trying to dodge the tracers when they start streaking past you.”

    Four days before he died, Roosevelt was thrilled to record that he might have downed a German Fokker D.VII on his own:

    I was out on high patrol with the rest of my squadron when we got broken up due to a mistake in the formation. I dropped into a turn of a vrille (twisting, like the tendril of a vine)—these planes have so little surface that at five thousand you can’t do much with them. When I got straightened out I couldn’t spot my crowd anywhere, so…I decided to fool around a little before going home, as I was just over the lines. I turned and circled for five minutes or so, and then suddenly…I saw three planes in formation. At first I thought they were Boche, but as they paid little attention to me I finally decided to chase them, thinking they were part of my crowd, so I started after them at full speed. I thought at the time it was a little strange…that they should be going almost straight into Germany, but I had plenty of gas so I kept on.

    They had been going absolutely straight and I was nearly in formation when the leader did a turn, and I saw to my horror that they had white tails with black crosses on them. Still I was so near by them that I thought I might pull up a little and take a crack at them. I had altitude on them, and what was more they hadn’t seen me, so I pulled up, put my sights on the end man, and let go. I saw my tracers going all around him, but for some reason he never even turned, until all of a sudden his tail came up and he went down in a vrille. I wanted to follow him but the other two had started around after me, so I had to cut and run.

    That victory was credited to Roosevelt after his death.
  2. Dolphin

    Dolphin New Member

    Lt Quentin Roosevelt was flying Nieuport 28 No 6177 '14' of the 95th Aero Squadron when he was shot down by Uffz Carl Emil Gräper of Jasta 50 at Vaissent on 14 July 1918. It was Gräper's only confirmed victory.


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