Charles Timothy "Chuck" Hagel is an American politician, decorated Vietnam War veteran, and nominee for US Secretary of Defense.
Hagel (born October 4, 1946) was born in North Platte, Nebraska to Betty nee Dunn and Charles Dean Hagel, who are of Polish and Irish as well as German descent. Hagel graduated from high school in Columbus, Nebraska in 1964, and from the Brown Institute for Radio and Television in 1966. In 1971, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Hagel served in the U.S. Army from 1967-1968 in the Vietnam War as an infantry squad leader in the 9th Infantry Division. He and his younger brother Tom served together in Vietnam and are believed to be the only American siblings to have done so during that war. Chuck and Tom saved each other's lives at distinct points during their service overseas. Hagel received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge for his military service.
After the war, Hagel began his career in business and politics in the U.S. From 1971 until 1977 he was on the staff of Congressman John Y. McCollister (R-NE) and subsequently lobbied for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. In 1980, he organized part of President Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign. After Reagan was inaugurated as President, Hagel was appointed Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration where he served until 1982.
From 1982 until the launching of his own political career in 1996, Hagel began several business ventures, which include that he co-founded Vanguard Cellular; served as president of the McCarthy Group investment banking firm; and was CEO of Information Systems, Inc., which produces computerized voting machines.
Hagel was elected to the U.S. Senate (R-NE) in 1996. He was reelected in 2002, and retired in 2008. After leaving the Senate, Hagel began teaching at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He also chairs the Atlantic Council, a non-partisan international affairs think tank and public policy group whose mission is to "promote constructive U.S. leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting the international challenges of the 21st century."
On January 7, 2013, President Obama nominated Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. The U.S. Senate confirmed Hagel for the Defense post on February 26, 2013, after weeks of contentious debate in the closest vote ever for a nominated secretary, 58-41, with only four Republican senators voting in support.