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Chuck Hagel

Politician / U.S. Senator

Born: 4 October 1946
Birthplace: North Platte, Nebraska
Best known as:

U.S. Secretary of Defense, 2013-present

Name at birth: Charles Timothy Hagel

A former two-term Republican Senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel became the U.S. Secreatry of Defense in 2013. Chuck Hagel is a decorated Army veteran who was an infantry squadron leader in Vietnam during 1967 and 1968. He and his younger brother, Tom, served together and were wounded together (Chuck has two Purple Heart decorations). After the war, Hagel got his degree from the University of Omaha and went to work for Republican Congressman John Y. McCollister (1971-76). For the next 20 years, Hagel worked in Washington as a lobbyist for Firestone Tires, as President Ronald Reagan's Deputy Administrator of Veterans Affairs, as the director of the United Service Organizations (USO) and as a private sector entrepreneur (Vanguard cellular phones). He moved back to Nebraska in 1992 and was elected to the Senate in 1996, vowing to serve only two terms. Good to his word, he retired from the Senate in 2008 and joined the faculty of Georgetown University in 2009. As a Republican senator, Hagel supported the George W. Bush administration in its response to attacks on the U.S. in September of 2011 and okayed the Patriot Act and the war in Afghanistan, but by 2005 he was publicly skeptical of the U.S. mission in Iraq. By 2007 he was openly opposed to more U.S. forces in Iraq and went on the record as calling the Bush administration incompetent. He was nominated to be Secretary of Defense by President Barack Obama as Obama entered his second term in 2013. Hagel's statements on Iraq and his alleged ambivalence to the plight of Israel -- as well as peripheral political trivia -- caused difficulties during his Senate confirmation hearings, as leading Republican senators grilled Hagel angrily and delayed his confirmation with a filibuster as a show of indignation. However, the Senate finally confirmed Hagel by a vote of 58-41 on February 26, 2013.

Extra credit:

Chuck Hagel replaced Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who served in that office from 2011-2013.

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