A History of Service
Chuck Hagel got his belief in service from his father and mother, and people like them of "the greatest generation." Charles Dean Hagel served as a Technical Sergeant in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was stationed in the South Pacific as radio operator and tail gunner on a B-25. Charles Hagel was also a commander of American Legion Post #79 in Ainsworth in the 1950s while Betty Hagel was three-time president of the Legion Auxiliary. Chuck's grandfather, Charles Leo Hagel, served in World War I as well.
At the height of the Vietnam War in 1967 Chuck Hagel was urged by the Platte County Selective Service Board to reenroll in college so that he could avoid the draft. Chuck chose to decline the offer, all the while thinking of his family's commitment and pride in serving their country. Instead he volunteered immediately to join the army. He was followed a month later by his brother, Tom. Upon completion of basic training, both men had the option of being sent to Germany, Chuck for specialty work in the NATO system and Tom for a six month stint before going to Vietnam. The brothers chose again to volunteer and went straight to Vietnam instead. They served side by side until Chuck was sent home in December of 1968, a month before Tom. They are the only brothers known to have served together in the same unit during the Vietnam War.