After landing many hundreds of yards south of the intended point of attack on Utah, there was a danger that disorientation would stall the assault. One man was to make a signal contribution to ensuring that that did not happen. Brig. Gen. Roosevelt had made repeated requests to go in with the first wave, writing:
You should have when you get to shore an overall picture in which you can place confidence. I believe I can contribute materially on all of the above by going in with the assault companies. Furthermore I personally know both officers and men of these advance units and believe that it will steady them to know that I am with them.
His request was finally approved, and his contribution on the day was to be recognised by America’s highest award, the Medal of Honour:
For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France.
After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt’s written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches.
He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice.
Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties.
He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France