Did You Know?
Chuck Hagel played football in high school and was good enough to earn a football scholarship to Wayne State College in Nebraska. When an injury sidelined his football career, he transferred to Kearney State College and then to the Brown Institute for Radio and Television, where earned a certificate in broadcasting and went on to a brief career in local radio before enlisting for Vietnam.
Chuck and Tom are the only brothers known to have served together in the same unit during the Vietnam War.
Chuck Hagel is the only Vietnam veteran and the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense.
Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska. He won over 83% of the vote in his 2002 re-election, a record for largest margin of victory in statewide races in Nebraska.
His run for the U.S. Senate wasn't his first campaign! Back in 1972, he was the campaign manager for Congressman John Y. McCollister's successful re-election bid.
Hagel’s youngest brother, Jim, and his son, Ziller, were both Zorro for Halloween as boys. Jim Hagel died tragically in a car accident at the age of 16 in 1969, only a few months after his brothers returned from Vietnam.
Chuck Hagel was an early pioneer in the cellular telephone industry. In 1982, he sold his 1979 Buick and cashed in some insurance policies to go into business with Don Clarke and Bill Collins, forming Collins, Hagel, & Clarke. In 1984, they rolled their cellular operations into Vanguard. Hagel became Executive Vice President, a position he held until the company went public in 1987.
Chuck Hagel had a tradition while Senator of dressing up as other political figures for Halloween. He frequently took pictures with his target individuals.
Traveling together in Iraq in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama teased Hagel, calling his shoes "Hugh Hefner slippers." When Obama appointed Hagel co-chair of his Intelligence Advisory Board in 2009, Hagel brought the President his own pair of slippers.