Dole Receives DoD Medal in Fort Myer Ceremony
By Pfc. Nicole Gearheart, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 4, 1998 "A modest man with immodest talent ... a man with fire in his heart."
Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole received these accolades April 29 from Defense Secretary William S. Cohen as he awarded Dole the department's Public Service Medal. The former Republican presidential candidate received the honor in front of troops of all service branches at a full honors review and award ceremony at Fort Myer, Va.
Dole's life exemplifies public service, Cohen said. "He learned his lessons early in life growing up in Russell, Kan.," Cohen said. "He went through the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and survived an injury as a result of World War II." Dole served a total of 35 years in the House and Senate.
Dole was a second lieutenant in the Army's 10th Mountain Division in World War II. Cohen told the story of how Dole was wounded by a mortar blast in Italy and waited nine hours for aid. The war ended a few weeks later. Before the war, Dole weighed an athletic 200 pounds, but when he returned to Kansas to recover from his injuries he weighed 120 pounds.
"But he fought back," Cohen said. "He is and always will be an American hero."
Dole thanked his wife, Elizabeth, for escorting him, making a joke about being "with the president ... of the Red Cross." In accepting the honor, the former senator said the times of which he is most proud were not those when he held office, but when he participated in the Po Valley and Northern Apennines campaigns in Italy in World War II.
"The Army has the best darn kids in the world ... kids that are willing to fight and die for America's freedom," he said. "I made sure while I was in office to fight for those same kids who I didn't want to see buried on foreign ground."