Chuck Hagel Nomination: An Interview With Senator Hagel on His Vietnam Combat Experience and Vision for the War’s Commemoration

During Chuck Hagel's tour in Vietnam, he served side by side with his brother Tom for 10 months. They both walked point almost always together.
During Chuck Hagel's tour in Vietnam, he served side by side with his brother Tom for 10 months. They both walked point almost always together.

Our democracy can only work when there is confidence in our leaders.

Now that Chuck Hagel has officially been nominated by President Obama as his Defense Secretary, the focus of both politicians and media have turned to the Republican Nebraska Senator, especially his views as they pertain to the military. The two-term Republican senator from Nebraska drew the ire of his party and the Bush administration when he raised objections to Iraq and Afghanistan war policies before choosing not to run again in 2008. Today, Hagel remains an important voice on domestic and foreign policy as chairman of the Atlantic Council, co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and in other advisory roles across Washington. His views on war have been shaped by his own experience in combat as a rifleman with his brother Tom in Vietnam in 1968. In this interview with Vietnam editor Roger L. Vance, Hagel recalls that experience and its impact on his views.

Did you grow up thinking you would be in the military?
Growing up in a little Nebraska town in the ’50s, with a father who’d served overseas in World War II, and where the VFW and American Legion clubs were the center of activity, there was an expectation that each has a responsibility to serve. How it would play out was uncertain. I’d never focused on being a soldier or in the military, but as events unfolded, Vietnam came along when I was at draft age.

Why did you enlist rather than remain in school?
I’d been in and out of a few colleges when I was informed by my draft board in early 1967 that levies were coming down and they were taking everybody. They said they would give me six months to get myself back into college. I told them: “I think I’d like to volunteer for the draft. How soon can I go?” They said, “The next bus leaves for Omaha in 30 days and we could probably get you on it.” I said, “Put me on that bus,” and they did. That was in April 1967.

And your brother Tom wasn’t far behind?
Tom graduated from high school two weeks later, and two weeks after that he was on the same bus. He was a couple of months behind me everywhere I went.

But you still were not Vietnam bound?
After Fort Bliss for Basic Training and Fort Ord for Advanced Infantry Training, I was selected for the first class trained to use the Army’s newest top-secret weapon, the first shoulder-fired heat-seeking missile, the Red Eye. We were to be placed in units in Europe to bring down low-flying Soviet aircraft. We trained at White Sands missile range, and I was among the trainees to demonstrate the Red Eye for President Lyndon Johnson.

What was that like?
Well, I missed the first target. The generals and colonels couldn’t believe it. An idiot should be able to hit the target; after all, it was heat-seeking. I did hit the second one.

How did you get to Vietnam instead of Germany?
I knew the Red Eye wasn’t for Vietnam but I thought the training would be helpful. So I knew that when I got my orders for Germany I had to make a decision. I left White Sands for two weeks at home before shipping out, but I figured if I said then that I wanted to go to Vietnam, it was very likely they would not let me go. So I waited until we were back at Fort Dix, and about two hours before the bus was to take us to catch the plane for Germany, I took my orders and quietly slipped out of the barracks and went to the orderly room. I told them that I had orders for Germany but wanted to volunteer to go to Vietnam. The room went silent as everybody turned and stared at me. They said, “Wait a minute,” and came back with a captain. They thought something was wrong with me, that I was loony, on drugs or had committed a crime and was running away. They sent in a chaplain, then a counselor. After about 90 minutes, they took my orders and sent me back to the barracks. When I got there, I lay down on my bunk. All the guys were saying: “What’s wrong with you? What are you doing? The bus is coming!” I said: “I’m not going; I just volunteered to go to Vietnam.” My buddies thought I’d lost my mind. One of the guys gave me his wristwatch, saying his brother had worn it the whole time he was a rifleman in Vietnam and nothing ever happened to him. “It kept my brother safe and I want you to have it,” he said. “It will keep you safe.” I still have the watch, but I have never been able to track down the guy who gave it to me. I waited at Dix for about two weeks until they gave me new orders, and on Dec. 4, 1967, I left for Vietnam.

And Tom had a similar adventure?
After training, he went to cooking school and had orders for Germany. We didn’t confer on this, but at the last minute he volunteered for Vietnam, too.

What motivated you to volunteer? Were you big supporters of the war?
In 1967 neither of us was really analyzing the causes and ramifications of the war. We were inculcated with the idea that you had faith in your leaders and accepted things. We felt that if you’ve got to be in the Army and there’s a war on, you go to the war.

Before long, you were both in the same unit. How did you pull that off?
Tom got to Vietnam in January 1968, a month after me. I went to the Mekong Delta with the 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, and he went with the 11th Armored Cavalry near the DMZ. We both put in transfers for each other’s units, figuring it would never happen, but by the end of January, Tom showed up at our base camp and for the next 10 months we served side by side.

What about the Sullivan brothers rule?
Because we both volunteered to be in a combat zone at the same time, the Army didn’t resist. I know of a similar situation while we were there, but it was very rare.

(Library of Congress photo)
(Library of Congress photo)
So you were just in time for Tet?
We were called up for security at the rubber plant around Long Binh as Tet broke out. Our company was the first into Long Binh. Nobody knew what was going on when we got in around 6:30 a.m. The place was blowing up everywhere. Two tracks right in front of me just vaporized. Nearly every officer and most senior enlisted men were killed or wounded by the end of the first day. I was a private, but for about a month I was one of the company’s acting sergeants while we did a lot of the house-to-house fighting before moving back to the delta.

And you and Tom were soon on track to rack up a combined five Purple Hearts.
The first time we were wounded was in March on a search and destroy mission in the jungle. Tom and I walked point most all the time. We just thought we were a bit sharper than the other boys.

Did your mother know about this?
She knew we were together, but she didn’t know a lot of the stuff. No point in burdening her with a lot of that. Well, another squad took point to give us a break. We were following a waterway in thick jungle where we knew the VC were. The guys walking point hit a trip wire that detonated big Chinese mines in the trees, killing three guys and wounding a bunch more, including Tom, who got shrapnel in his neck and arms, and me, who got it in the chest. Then the VC opened up on us. When the situation stabilized, medevacs came in and dropped baskets through the canopy for the dead and wounded. It was getting dark and we needed to get out of there fast, so the captain asked Tom and me to get back on point. It was then that Tom found another grenade, hidden in another tree, that we damn near activated.

Your second wounds were more serious?
In April we went into a village where we knew the VC were. My track was the first in. We swept the village, had a little firefight and took some prisoners. My track was also the last going out, and we hit a land mine, killing one guy and wounding others. Tom was unconscious. I knew the track itself was going to blow, so I started throwing everybody off. Tom and I had our eardrums blown out, and I had bad burns on my face. We were dusted off and spent a few days in a field hospital. I had bandages on my face for six weeks.

Soon you were back in Saigon?
In May, during mini-Tet, Tom was wounded a third time. During a firefight, our battalion commander, Lt. Col. Frederick Van Deusen, was above in his bubble chopper when he was shot down over the Saigon River. When Tom swam into the river to rescue him, he was shot. Van Deusen, who was General William Westmoreland’s brother-in-law, drowned. That was the only time Tom and I were ever separated during a firefight. Thankfully, his wounds were not life-threatening.

After getting his third Purple Heart, wasn’t Tom headed home?
He didn’t want to go. But as our time grew short, they didn’t want to take a chance with us; they didn’t make us go out on any more patrols. So, at Dong Tam, I was put in charge of the enlisted men’s club—a tent with a little sandbag bar—and Tom was put in charge of the PX. I got home in December 1968 and Tom in January 1969.

And you two stuck together after the war.
I’d been to three colleges before Vietnam. Tom hadn’t been to college at all. We decided to go to school at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, one of the premier bootstrap universities in the country. A lot of active duty guys were finishing their school there. We worked full time—I tended bar and worked at a radio station, Tom worked as a postman. We lived together for the first year. Tom graduated in three years and went on to get his masters degree at Ohio University and then went to law school at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He was a public defender in Lincoln for three years before going to teach at Temple University law school. This year marks his 30th year as a law professor at the University of Dayton, where he is also a municipal court judge.

What was your area of interest in college?
Before Vietnam I had majored in history and taken journalism courses and had attended a radio and television school in Minnesota, the Brown Institute. I finished school in May 1971. Because I’d gone to so many other schools and got credits for serving in the military, I ended up getting a bachelor’s degree in general studies.

Could you tell how the country had changed when you came back?
I knew what America had just gone through in 1968 when we were in Vietnam: the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the riots and upheaval. It was a different place. But we didn’t have it as bad in Nebraska as on the East or West coasts. I never experienced the same kind of treatment as others did, but I read and knew what was going on and heard from buddies who were treated badly.

Did people understand what was actually happening in Vietnam?
It is astounding. Today I can’t fathom that this country would allow something like that to happen—16,000 young men killed in one year. I think America was confused and off balance. People didn’t know what it was about, why we were losing so many kids. Unlike today, it was a draft war, and that draft seeped out into all of society so it forced people to deal with it. I don’t think most people were concerned with the whys and the whats; it just got to the point where enough was enough, let’s just get out.

After college you worked at a radio station, then found your way to Washington.
I was always interested in journalism and that led me toward politics and government. When I first went to Washington, Congressman John McCollister from Omaha, whom I had interviewed on the radio, was the only person I knew there. He let me job-hunt out of his office. Through him I probably visited 100 offices, but nobody had any openings. Finally, Congressman McCollister made me a deal: He’d give me a part-time job, pay me 200 bucks a month and let me live in his basement while I looked for a job. So I loaded up my ’57 Chevy and moved to D.C. A year later I was Congressman McCollister’s chief of staff, the youngest on Capitol Hill. I worked for the congressman for five years, until he ran for the Senate in 1976 and lost. I then went to work for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, where I was the youngest manager of government affairs of a major corporation in D.C. I was very lucky.

But you had caught the eye of some top Republicans and were pulled back into politics.
In 1980, Sen. Bill Brock of Tennessee asked me to a take leave of absence from Firestone and help out with the Ronald Reagan presidential campaign. That is when I became acquainted with Reagan and his top people. After the election, in 1981 I was asked to serve as deputy commissioner general of the Knoxville world’s fair. Later in 1981 I was nominated by President Reagan to be deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration.

Your tenure there was cut short by a disagreement you had with the Reagan administration?
I resigned in July 1982 because I had a significant disagreement with the administration on veteran programs. They wanted to cut Agent Orange studies and programs, and they wanted to do away with the veterans centers that had been started by former VA Administrator Max Cleland. I thought they were going in the wrong direction. The VA administrator at the time was Bob Nimmo, a fine man, World War II vet and a friend of Reagan’s from California, but he was not sympathetic to Vietnam veterans. He went on a morning news show and called them “crybabies” over their claims about Agent Orange. I didn’t want to cause problems for the president, so I resigned.

And that’s when you left politics for the business world?
I was offered some other positions in the administration, but turned them down. I really had no prospects; I just jumped. After a couple of months, some old friends who were in the cable TV business wanted me to join them in this new technology called cellular telephony. I had to cash in my life insurance policy and sell my 1978 Buick Skylark to come up with the $5,000 to make my investment. Three years later the company was one of the largest nonwire cell telephone companies in the country.

So your success with Vanguard Cellular allowed you to pursue other opportunities?
I was serving on the world USO Board of Governors. The organization was going bankrupt and the board asked me to take over as president in 1987. It took about three years, working full time, but we turned the USO around. I was still on the Vanguard board, but wanted to take some time off. That’s when Brent Scowcroft called me to the White House to meet with President George H.W. Bush and James Baker. They asked Republican Party official Fred Malek and me to put together the G-7 economic summit in Texas in July 1990, pro bono of course. It was great fun. Then I was named president of the Private Sector Council in 1991, and in 1992 I moved back to Nebraska to be president of McCarthy Company, a private investment banking firm.

And a few years later, you took the leap to run for the Senate.
I ran for the Senate in 1996. I was not supposed to win the primary, or the race against two-term Governor Ben Nelson, but I won the election by 14 points. In the 2002 election, I won with the highest percentage of victory in Nebraska history, with 84 percent of the vote.

Why did you decide not to run again in 2008?
I did not run for a third term partly because I had said I would only serve two terms. I had a lot of encouragement to run, but by then I also felt I was out of step with my own Republican Party. I saw where it was going and I didn’t like it. I decided I could do more good on the outside. Serving in the Senate was the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I enjoyed it, but enough was enough. So I’m doing other things now and have never been happier. I have been very lucky in my life.

You also spoke out about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a way that was not particularly popular within the Bush administration and your party.
Unfortunately, much of what I warned about is coming true. I said early on that Iran would have more influence in Iraq than the U.S. does and there would be a tendency toward dictatorship. The fact is we didn’t need to invade, Saddam didn’t control 60 percent of his country, he was withering on the vine. I’m not sure we enhanced the situation in Iraq in any way although we paid a terrible price and undermined our influence in the Middle East, and our standing after the invasion was the worst ever. When you add it all up, I’m not sure how we made it better, other than for Iran. But the history is not completely written yet. We do know that it is not at all what the Bush administration and those who were for the war told the people and Congress—not even close

In Afghanistan, we lost our way. The reason we are losing Afghanistan is that it wasn’t ours to win or lose. I even question the concept of winning or losing in that situation. The whole frame of reference was wrong, and then we invaded Iraq and mindlessly took our eye off ball in Afghanistan and took all of the resources and focused on Iraq—before the mission in Afghanistan was done. But we hung on and had to reinvest and come back in and it was a mess by then. Trying to run two wars, when so much was beyond our control, ended in disaster for both. After 10 years in Afghanistan, what are we going to have when we get out? What have we done here? So far more than 2,100 dead and thousands wounded, spent a trillion dollars, and we undermined ourselves and enhanced Iran.

The secretary of defense recently tapped you to serve as chairman of the Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee. How important is that to you?
I am honored by the appointment and looking forward to doing all I can to help the effort. While in the Senate I cosponsored the bill creating the commemoration and brought it forward. It will be a formal, official recognition of a war we can’t celebrate, that people don’t like to talk about except as an example of a failed decision or failed experience. So it is a way to acknowledge those who sacrificed and unflinchingly served their country. It is overdue and it is important to do now.

What should Vietnam vets think as the nation begins to mark the 50th anniversary of the war?
They need to recognize that one’s service to country always counts, even when there is a lack of clear purpose and agreement. That personal sacrifice and commitment still matters, and it is the mark of character to honor out nation’s commitments with service. And yes sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s unfair, and that’s why there must always be a national debate before going to war. But we should never diminish one’s service to his or her country.

Vietnam vets did their duty honorably and well. Those who went to Vietnam had no voice in forming the policy. They did what the policy of their country asked them to do. Later we found out that policy was often dishonest and misguided, but our democracy can only work when we have confidence in our leaders. We must never again let our leaders fail our country that way. That is what drove me so much on the Iraq and Afghanistan debate. I was involved in big decisions on war, and I didn’t want ever to be accused of having failed to speak up and question these decisions. Vietnam veterans must do the same. Challenging, probing and questioning is what is patriotic. Not to question is unpatriotic.

After Vietnam you had an extraordinary business and political career. How did your experience shape your thinking?
We are each a product of our experiences, and my time in combat very much shaped my opinions about war. I’m not a pacifist; I believe in using force, but only after following a very careful decision-making process. The night Tom and I were medevaced out of that village in April 1968, I told myself: If I ever get out of this and I’m ever in a position to influence policy, I will do everything I can to avoid needless, senseless war. I never forgot that vow I made to myself, and I tried to live by it during my time in the Senate.

This interview appeared in the December 2012 issue of Vietnam magazine.


40 Responses

  1. Dennis

    Indeed welcome home and thank you for your service, honour and dedication.

  2. Rick Fulton

    Thank you Chuck. You do us all proud! You say so well why the Commemoration is important. Welcome home to you and your brother.

  3. Bill, SGM, A.U.S., Ret.

    Senator, I respect your decision to buck your parties direction especially with regard to the Middle East wars. If there were more like you I could possibly support their candidates and some of their policies instead of having only one party to choose from. As it is now, I cannot.

    My wife and I where invited guest and attended the Commemoration kick-off ceremony on Memorial Day 2012 at the Wall and I got to exchange pleasantries briefly with the Army Provost Marshall sitting nearby. I was moved at the event because it was great to hear what the President pointed out, that we had not lost a major battle in the war and that we should have gotten more recognition and better treatment after our service, (not that we served to get any of that). The Huey flying overhead almost brought to my eyes those things we as boys of our generation were taught unacceptable, namely, tears. Great idea whoever thought of the flyover!

    I wish you much sucess in the comming years, especially with your new endeavor! Welcome home, Vet!

    P.S. I ended my Vietnam service as a SP4 with the 199th Light Infantry in April, 1967, when I was wounded by a grenade.

  4. Richard Holaday

    I wish to comment on the above, specifically page 19 of the Magazine Article and the paragraph here that starts: Soon you were back in Saigon.” He refers to LTC Van Duesen, General Westmoreland’s brother-in-law. LTC Van Duesen was shot down 3 July 68 and not in May 68. It was not a bubble helicopter but a C&C Huey. It was shot down in the Vam Co Dong River and southeast of the Ben Luc Bridge and not the Saigon River. There were 10 Americans on board with 3 survivors. I was one of the survivors. SGT Curtis Buck swam out and helped me get ashore. Chuck says Tom was shot trying to swim out to rescue LTC Van Duesen (his 3rd purple heart). I did not see another swimmer in the water. In another interview with Vietnam Veteran’s History Project, Chuck expressed frustration with invisible leadership and about not being impressed with battalion leadership. Since Chuck is confused on dates and locations, it is possible that he was the invisible one. He is quoted as saying: “I never had much confidence in a lot of the officer corps.” In another interview, Experiencing War, he reveals that : you had guys getting all drunked up or drugged up and then going out on patrol….they were worthless to you.” He refers to a “bait patrol” he was on where he, in effect, let his radio and claymores get into enemy hands. I am also told he has been invited to speak at the 47th Infantry Reunions. He has not attended any of them. Is it possible that his war stories just won’t hold up when faced with soldiers who were there at the same time.

    • RichAZ

      I was an officer on Advisory Team 86, Long An Province, from March 68 to March 69. Ben Luc is in Long An. Huey’s went down all the time. I just missed going on an operation in May 68 where 5 Hueys landing were shot down. “Bubble” helicopters were the tiny Cayuse, mostly glass, with guns. The 9th Inf. Div. used them. Sen. Chuck’s brother days later may have thought later that the people he was swimming to were the well-known/publicized LtCol. Van Duesen’s. Col. Hank Emerson, Brigade CO, got shot down, too. It is true that C&C choppers were always Hueys at that time.

      • RichAZ

        I wish to add that Sen Hegal describes the drug situation of the 9th Inf. Div. in 1968 pretty well. I and a major went to Dong Tam (9thID HQ) ONCE after the King and Kennedy assassinations. The lack of discipline was enormous; blacks and whites were almost at war. It was a scary place. We had planned to check out the O Club, but we just said “Let’s get out of this F’n place.”
        I am a Democrat, btw, and disagreed with Sen. Hegal’s votes most of the time. On war we have no disagreement, including his honest and correct views about Vietnam.

      • Roy Moseman

        To RichAZ.
        I must take exception to your comments about the 9th ID having a lack of discipline. I served with C co. 4/47th 9th ID from Oct 1967 to Oct 1968. In my opinon we were one of the most disciplined units in Vietnam. Just how long did you stay in Dong Tam. Did you see enough to make an honest opion. There may have been some problems with the rear echelon people as there were in most units but the infantry units were well disciplined and there were no problems between the blacks and whites even after the MLK assasination. You sound like another typical democrat trying to make the Vietnam War sound worse than it was. . I am a proud combat veteran of the 9th Infantry division with a Silver Star, and three purple hearts. You should be ashamed of your uninformed comments.

      • RichAZ

        You were in a line outfit, not the 9InfD HQ at Dong Tam. Dong Tam was like a piece of the USA. Different world to a line outfit!
        You are right; I only spent a couple of hours at Dong Tam but the major from my AT who was with me was a West Pointer, and had served in combat arms in Korea and Europe. He had been on many installations. He was disturbed by what we saw there at Dong Tam—“Black Power” signs, Confederate flags, all sorts of signs of Army decay. At the Advisory Team’s TOC we received almost all the comm traffic from 9th ID. We saw the messages to all troops warning soldiers to always be accompanied on the Dong Tam base by at least one other soldier, because there had been race-based attacks on single soldiers. Perhaps you were back home before such warnings went out. Personally, I think that soldiers not in combat or under threat fall apart, and go to “pot”–pun intended— and get in trouble. I’m sure that this holds true even today.

  5. Laurence Lewin

    This is the kind of thinking that we need at the most responsible levels of government. As a liberal Democrat, I completely concur with everything that Senator Hagel said in this interview. He would make a fine Secretary of Defense, and dare I say this…. a fine President.

  6. Daniel

    Thank You Senator Hagel for your service and dedication to this country. I have the utmost profound respect for the Vietnam Veterans and all who continue to serve. You sir continue to give me faith in our government leaders as I continue to look around and not find too much of it lately. You will make a great secretary. God Bless.
    -An old Redleg Soldier.

  7. ED HINOJOSA pfc e-3

    i served with captain joe calloway ,mekong first light landed dec 3rd 1966 at vungtau i also served same areas chuck hagel served in dec 3 rd 66 to nov 25,1967 i went from c,company 2/60 to 9 s n t driving night convoys tough roads to drive on those duce and a half s bogged down in mud up the bottom of the truck bed ,drivng wasnt easy at 1am inthe morning sleeping in back of the trucks constnatly on the move moving suipplies over the ben luc bridge to tan an and mytho and back .iserved with 2/60 from july 66 to may or june of 67.we engaged the 143rd or 141 st nva regiment i believe io heard the platoon commanders or company commander as point man i soaked in every thing .every bit of info wesawour first fire fight feb 27,1967 theysaid we got 76 vc and 46 in another firefight or operation ,wewereattached to 5/60 mech like the 47th we were 3rd bdge they were 1st or second brigade they took up the slack when we rotated home i was gland to get out ,with my ass intact cause b co snt and getting hit nov 1967,i asked not to go out any more driving the diesel tanker

    • ED HINOJOSA pfc e-3

      my platoon
      leader and fire team leader were both kia feb 27,1967lt ray roland wooldridge houston texas, and fire team leader santiago guadalupe rodriguez gonzales acting jack e-4 san antonio.texas e-4 robert aguilar both buried sam houston,2/60 members of the go devils 3rd bdge 9th inf div

  8. Mike Bronner

    I am trying to get a feel for Chuck Hagel but now I am confused as to facts, bs, etc. Seems to be some different opinions on the same situation. We damn sure do not need another Fraud like John Kerry high up in our government. Kerry is despicable to say the least. I think after reading these comments that Chuck Hagel is a good guy and truthful and he definitely did his part in the Nam. Kerry is a major POS in my opinion. We all tend to lose a few details on various things we were involved with, after all these years. If Kerry ends up as the Secretary of State that will be as much of an embarrassment to this country as Obama is. Both completely incompetent POS in my opinion. I think Chuck Hagel will make a great Sec. of Defense.

    Doc, 173rd Airborne Brigade
    May 68 to May 69

  9. George Dahl

    The Truth shall set you free, be it now, today or in the future, but if it is now we shall all be better off rather than arguing in the future about what everyones reality is. The only thing the Vietnam War/police action/conflict did was make a lot of people rich and a lot of people dead.

    • Mike Bronner


      And the rich people and dead people are the lucky ones possibly.I was called a “baby killer” as recently as this week. Anyone who is under the impression that the Vietnam Veteran is not longer despised by mostly Liberals in this country, is sadly mistaken.

  10. RichAZ

    Are you George Dahl from NTHS? Navy deep-sea diver?

  11. George Dahl

    C/2/22 Mechanized Vietnam 66-67 4 ID/25 ID

    Curious: What is exactly the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War to mean to me? An Apology 50 years too late???

    • Mike Bronner

      I agree George. There is nothing anyone can say to me at this late date that would make any difference whatsoever about anything regarding the time I personally spent in the Nam. I guess there are some people who feel bad and want to “make it up to us” but like you said, not at this late date, not for me anyway.

      Doc Bronner
      173rd Airborne Brigade, (Separate)
      THE HERD, Sky Soldiers

  12. Bill Rambow

    I would invite all interested parties, skeptical and otherwise, to see what is being discussed on the 47th Infantry Facebook page. I awoke this morning proud that a fellow “Panther” grunt of the 2/47th Infantry was being considered for the SOD post. After reading the Facebook posts and Senator Hagel’s interview from Vietnam Magazine I have done a complete about face. I was at Long Binh/Bien Hoa during Tet ’68 when Hagel claims to have been there. I say “claims” because there are so many obvious falacies in his stirring description of his actions during the battle that I seriously question everything he says. I’ve laid out some examples in the Facebook discussion, so I’ll leave it to those who don’t accept everything a career politician utters as truth to read it there and check it out further. I, for one, will be contacting my Senators to urge them not to approve this appointment.

    Bill Rambow
    C Co 2/47th Infantry (Mechanized)
    March ’67 – March ’68

    • Steve Unzueta

      As a republican, my views on Vietnam can be summed up best by RRR quote: “It was a noble effort.” There is much concern about Hagel’s liberal views concerning Israel and other issues as well. Whenever the left embraces a Vietnam Veteran there is room for much concern. Well put brother, a possible Kerry fraud. It says in the old book “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (The Lord God to Abram-father of Israel) Genesis 12:2,3.
      Steve Unzueta
      lst MarDiv 1967-68, Tuy Loan, South Vietnam
      Soldier of Jesus Christ

  13. RichAZ

    Old Testament gibberish. Pretty lame. Try something from the New Testament.

  14. Chuck Hagel

    […] worth noting that the Hagel brothers left Vietnam just as their commanding general, Julian Ewell, launched a six-month operation in the Mekong Delta […]

  15. cj cunningham

    If Tom trained as a cook, what was he doing out in the bush? Also it was very commenplace in 1967 for guys to volunteer for Vietnam. Thousands of guys even volunteered to either extend their tours or re-upped for additional tours. It’s funny though, a lot of news organizations have claimed that Sen. Hagel was an officer and led and infantry platoon in VN. Just shows how the mainstream press can screw up a story. I wish The Senator good luck in his new position.


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