TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Ordered to Germany, Pvt. Hagel ended up in Vietnam

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 9:14 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — Chuck Hagel says a funny thing happened on his way to the Vietnam War as an Army private 45 years ago.

He almost went, instead, to Germany as one of nine soldiers entrusted with a top-secret shoulder-fired missile designed to shoot down Soviet MiG fighters in the event the Soviets began an invasion of Western Europe.

After two months of training on the weapon in New Mexico, and while packing up for his flight to Germany, Hagel decided he'd rather go to an actual war — Vietnam. His Army superiors, however, seemed to doubt the sanity of that choice and decided it better take a closer look at his motives for volunteering for combat.

It was November 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, and not a lot of enlisted men were begging to get there.

“They brought priests, rabbis, ministers, psychiatrists — all came in to examine me, thinking something was wrong, (thinking) I was running away from something or I'd killed somebody,” Hagel recalled in testimony Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is considering his nomination to be secretary of Defense.

He said he underwent two days of tests, was deemed fit of mind and body, got his orders for Vietnam and soon headed for the war front, arriving in December. He was wounded twice in combat and returned home in 1968.

If confirmed by the Senate, as expected, Hagel, 66, would be the first former enlisted soldier and first Vietnam veteran to serve as Defense secretary.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. North Korean detainee reunites with family in Ohio
  2. Social Security benefits to go up by 1.7 percent
  3. Congress examines NSA official’s part-time job
  4. Expert: Stress level rises for Americans who forfeit vacation
  5. CDC: 2nd hospital worker with Ebola took flight from Cleveland
  6. Panetta skipped CIA’s OK of book, potentially putting agency in delicate position with others
  7. Archaeologists sift through Everglades muck for history
  8. U.S. doctor’s book recounts rescue in Afghanistan in which Norwin graduate died
  9. ISIS lacks deadly chemical munitions in Iraq, Syria, Pentagon claims
  10. Obama authorizes National Guard, reserve call-up for Ebola
  11. Open encrypted messages by updating technology access law, FBI Director Comey says
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.