Doesn’t get any better! AND a Senator.
by Tom Bowman
NPR, December 24, 2012
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is said to be on President Obama’s short list to be the next defense secretary. But even the possibility of his nomination has stirred up opposition — particularly from members of his own political party.
If Hagel can survive a political ambush in Washington, he would be the first Pentagon chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
The blunt-spoken Hagel favors deeper cuts in military spending and is wary of entangling America in long overseas missions.
In January 2007, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were fighting President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. Hagel was the only Republican to join them, and he blasted those who refused to take a stand.
“Why are you elected?” Hagel asked. “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes. This is a tough business. But is it any tougher, us having to take a tough vote, express ourselves, and have the courage to step up, than what we’re asking our young men and women to do? I don’t think so.”
Lessons From Vietnam
Hagel knew better than most what America was asking of its young men and women. Forty years earlier he’d fought in Vietnam with his brother Tom.
They served in the same unit. On patrol one morning in 1968, Chuck was hit by shrapnel in the chest, and Tom rushed to help him. A month later, Chuck saved Tom, pulling him from a burning vehicle. Between them the two brothers earned five Purple Hearts.