Former Nebraska United States Sen. Chuck Hagel has bid farewell to the Pentagon, sent out as Secretary of Defense with fanfare and best wishes from President Barack Obama.
Obama declared Hagel a “great friend” and declared him a patriot during a special ceremony at the Pentagon.
“In an era of politics that too often descends into spectacle, you’ve always served with decency and dignity. And in a town of outsized egos, you’ve never lost your Midwestern humility,” Obama told Hagel during the ceremony.
Hagel, a Republican, served two terms in the United States Senate.
Obama chose him as Secretary of Defense in 2013.
Reports circulated in Washington that Hagel clashed with members of the president’s National Security Council and chafed under what he perceived as the micromanaged of the White House of Defense.
“You’ve always been frank and honest and said what you thought. I have so profoundly benefited from that candor,” Obama stated.
Obama mentioned the first time he met Hagel, 10 years ago when Obama joined Hagel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I’m grateful to Chuck on a very personal level,” Obama said. “I was new and green, you were a veteran legislator. I was the student, and you shared some lessons of your service.”