Skip to Content

Chuck Hagel Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here’s a look at the life of former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.


Birth date: October 4, 1946

Birth place: North Platte, Nebraska

Birth name: Charles Timothy Hagel

Father: Charles Hagel, lumber yard manager

Mother: Betty (Dunn) Hagel, secretary

Marriages: Lilibet Ziller (April 1985-present); Patricia Lloyd (1979-1982, divorced)

Children: with Lilibet Ziller: Allyn and Ziller

Education: Attended Wayne State College, 1964; Attended Kearney State College, 1965; Brown Institute for Radio and Television in Minneapolis, 1966; University of Nebraska at Omaha, B.A. in History, 1971

Military: US Army, 1967-1968, Sergeant

Religion: Episcopalian

Other Facts

Hagel is the first Vietnam veteran to serve as US defense secretary.

His first job was as at a drive-in restaurant as a car-hop; he was 9 years old.

An injury caused him to lose a football scholarship at Wayne State University and transfer to Kearney State College, now known as the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Served in Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Division alongside his brother, Tom. They earned five Purple Hearts between the two of them.

Hagel was twice wounded in Vietnam and saved his brother’s life. Tom had saved Chuck’s life earlier.

Worked in radio as a newscaster, reporter and talk-show host.


1971-1977 – US Representative John McCollister’s (R-NE) administrative assistant.

1977-1980 – Lobbyist for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

1981-1982 – Deputy administrator for the Veterans Administration.

1982 – Deputy commissioner general for the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.

1982-1985 – President and co-founder of management consulting firm, Collins, Hagel and Clarke Inc.

1984-1987 – Director and executive vice president of Vanguard Cellular Systems Inc.

1987-1990 – President and CEO of World United Service Organizations.

1990-1992 – President and CEO of Private Sector Council in Washington, DC.

1992-1996 – President of McCarthy and Co., an investment banking firm.

1997-2009 – US Senator (R-NE). Retires after two terms.

2009-2013 – Professor of National Governance in the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

January 7, 2013 – Is nominated to be secretary of defense by President Barack Obama.

February 14, 2013Senate Democrats fail to get enough votes to end debate on Hagel’s confirmation. Fifty-eight vote to move forward with the nomination, while 40 vote to hold it up.

February 26, 2013Hagel is confirmed by the Senate, after a vote of 58-41.

March 9, 2013 – As Hagel visits Afghanistan for the first time as secretary of defense, a suicide bomber targets the Afghan ministry of defense, killing nine and injuring 14.

November 24, 2014 – President Obama announces that Hagel will step down from his position as secretary of defense.

February 17, 2015 – Formally steps down.

March 3, 2020 – Hagel says that he’s supporting Joe Biden for president, arguing that the former VP is the “right person” for “this time in our country,” though the former defense secretary remains a Republican.

August 23, 2022 – The Council on Criminal Justice announces the launch of the Veterans Justice Commission. Chaired by Hagel, the commission will focus on why so many military veterans are incarcerated.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content