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Jan-08-2013 10:53printcomments

Sergeant Charles Hagel for Secretary of Defense

A fighting soldier for fighting soldiers.

Chuck Hagel served with honor in the Vietnam War.
Chuck Hagel served with honor in the Vietnam War.

(PORTLAND, OR) - I had heard that Charles Hagel was a Purple Heart Veteran of Vietnam, but it wasn't until I heard of his current nomination to the Secretary of Defense, at the Pentagon, that I really paid attention. I honestly believe that this is a good idea about fighting a war. This article will explain why I feel this way.

Chuck Hagel started out as a private like most of of us, but was finally chosen to be a squad sergeant for 12 men because his own sergeant was wounded or killed, and he was the best choice to succeed him. This says a lot to a former Combat Infantryman like myself. I found out the hard way, that infantry privates really make the most critical decisions in battle. This frequently causes death or wounding. Chuck Hagel got two Purple Hearts and saved his own brother from a land mine explosion.

Hagel was scheduled to go to Germany for his army hitch but volunteered for Vietnam. His non-coms, officers and psychiatrists tried to talk him out of it, he prevailed. After being in the jungles, mud, snakes, leeches, and willing to die Viet Cong, he probably had many second thoughts.

He volunteered many times for forward scout, or point man, suicide missions, sometimes with his own younger brother. He seemed to feel that he was better qualified for this than his own squad members because he was older, 21, while his men were about 18-years old and fresh out of high school.

For the infantry in Vietnam, the casualties were outrageously high. When he went in, he went with 4000 replacements for his Ninth Division. This should have cooled his enthusiasm but he went in anyhow.

He was wounded and hospitalized twice, once by a shell fragment in his chest, which is still lodged close to his heart. He went AWOL from the hospital to get back to his boys. The second time something his his vehicle and exploded the ammunition. His face was nearly burned off. He was hospitalized for this but went AWOL again back to his squad.

His autobiography indicates that in Vietnam, a massive loss of officers up to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and Hagel served as a temporary platoon leader and also about two weeks as a company commander. He reported that he doesn't remember seeing 'bird colonels' and never saw a general's star. They were somewhere 'back there'.

It is ironic that a former dogface soldier would now command former high ranking officers, something like Captain/President Harry Truman. The officers, possibly from Vietnam, but as he says in his autobiography, "The sergeants run the army". I can add to this, that the dogface soldiers do the fighting, killing and dying and they have the greatest responsibility for winning a war; more than the brass, sitting in the officer's club, way back there someplace.

Chuck Hagel does have PTSD ---- he earned it.


Got a question or comment for Dr. Leveque?
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More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole".
Order the book by mail by following this link: Dogface Soldier

If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

Watch streaming video question and answer segments about medical marijuana with Bonnie King and Dr. Phil Leveque.

Click on this link for other articles and video segments about PTSD and medical marijuana on



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Anonymous January 9, 2013 8:54 am (Pacific time)

One man killed in Vietnam was only 16 years old. The oldest man killed was 62 years old . 11,465 KIAs were less than 20 years old. Assuming KIAs accurately represented age groups serving in Vietnam, the average age of an infantryman (MOS 11B) serving in Vietnam is actually 22. None of the enlisted grades have an average age of less than 20. The average man who fought in World War II was 26 years of age. BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE. Hagel is certainly a better candidate for Sec. of Defense than the current one, and him having actual combat infantry experience is a plus. I imagine when the rubber hits the road and he gets some more insight regarding our defense needs coupled with updated info on those who want to destroy America, he will be making the correct decisions. I will pray for him to do the right things.

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