1st Floor Criss Library – Chuck Hagel arrived in Vietnam in December 1967 on the eve of the deadliest year for U.S. military personnel in Vietnam. Throughout 1968, he and younger brother, Tom, fought in the Mekong Delta and Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City) as part of the 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment. During their time in the same squad--a rarity for brothers in the military--they each saved the other’s life. Hagel left Vietnam in December 1968. Tom followed him home in early 1969.
In-Country, At Home: Hagel and Vietnam begins with Hagel’s entrance into the U.S. Army and basic training in April 1967 and follows him as he lands in Vietnam, welcomes his brother to the unit, is promoted to Sergeant, and survives a year in the Mekong Delta. The exhibit concludes with a look at Hagel’s brief tenure as Deputy Administrator of Veterans Affairs at the Veterans Administration and his participation in the groundbreaking for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Artifacts on display include a replica armored personnel carrier (APC) made for Hagel by his artist brother, Mike, the shovel Hagel used to break ground for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, and Hagel’s two Purple Heart certificates. Photographs, letters home, and other documents from Hagel’s Army service, along with his support of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and tenure at the Veterans Administration, make up the rest of the exhibit.
UNO alum Chuck Hagel later served as a U.S. Senator (NE-R) from 1997 to 2009 and as U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2013 to 2015. When he left the U.S. Senate, he donated his records to UNO. They became the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives. Hagel continues to be active at UNO and supportive of the Hagel Archives. A majority of the documents in this exhibit were donated by Hagel in December 2020.
Now Open for Research
The U.S. Senate Chuck Hagel Archives is available for use in person at Archives and Special Collections on the first floor of Criss Library. Newly available for research is the Legislative Files series, the largest and most content-rich set of material in the Hagel Archives. Hagel’s legislative files cover almost every issue that arose in legislation or was prominent at the national level from 1997 to 2009. Significant events and topics include the Clinton impeachment proceedings in 1998-1999, a contested presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic downtown of 2007-2009, and disaster and drought assistance for Nebraska's rural areas.
For more information about all the records available for research, visit the finding aid for the Hagel Archives. Archives and Special Collections is open to researchers Monday-Friday 9 A.M. - 5 P.M. Appointments are not required, but may be requested in advance.
This exhibit was curated by Lori Schwartz, Hagel and Technical Services Archivist.
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Unless otherwise clearly stated, any views or opinions expressed as part of events, exhibitors, or presenters in the UNO Libraries (Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library and the KANEKO-UNO Library) should not be viewed as endorsements by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and do not reflect the official position of UNO or the University of Nebraska system.