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Bob Dole, GOP Senator, Presidential Nominee and Decorated WWII Veteran, Dies at 98

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a wounded World War II veteran who represented Kansas in the House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate from 1969 to 1996, died today. He was 98.

Dole, who served as the Senate's Republican leader from 1985 to 1996, was the last World War II veteran to have been a presidential nominee of a major party. He was the Republican candidate in the 1996 presidential election, and his ticket lost to incumbent President Bill Clinton. He also was the Republican vice presidential nominee in the 1976 election, in which President Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford.

Woman stands behind a seated man as they pose for a photo.
Promotion Pose
Former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole and his wife, former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, pose for a photo during an honorary promotion ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington, May 15, 2019.
Photo By: Army Spc. Dana Clarke
VIRIN: 190516-A-GV774-0572

Dole is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, to whom he's been married for 46 years. The senator's widow served as the transportation and labor secretary and went on to head the Red Cross.

"He was so bashful. It was the third call before he asked me out," Elizabeth Dole said in a February 2019 NBC interview. "I really liked that. I loved his compassionate heart. He loved to feel that each day he could make a difference for at least one person in need. And I loved that he had such a great sense of humor."

Woman wearing green dress applauds a man seated beside her.
The Doles
Former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole applauds as her husband, former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole is recognized by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during his keynote address at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, May 24, 2014.
Photo By: Glenn Fawcett, DOD
VIRIN: 140524-D-NI589-886
Soldier in camouflage uniform and man wearing a suit clench hands as a woman in a blue dress stands between them.
Honored Handshake
Former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole shakes hands with Army Lt. Col. Michael Lind during Dole's honorary promotion ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2019. The senator’s wife, former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, looks on. Dole, who was medically discharged as a captain after being severely wounded in World War II, was promoted to colonel.
Photo By: Sean Kimmons, DOD
VIRIN: 190516-D-HG842-002

Dole grew up in Russell, Kansas, and was attending college at the University of Kansas when World War II broke out. In 1942, he enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps, and in 1944 was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the 10th Mountain Division.

He was seriously injured in combat near Castel d'Aiano in the Apennine Mountains southwest of Bologna, Italy, by German machine-gun fire. He was hit in his upper back and right arm, and he fought through a long recovery at Percy Jones Army Hospital, now named the Dole-Inouye Federal Center. 

Two men kneel and pose for a photo.
Dole and Dawson
Former Sen. Bob Dole, left, with his childhood friend, Bub Dawson, in 1944. Dole received an honorary promotion at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2019. Dole, who was medically discharged as a captain after being severely wounded in WWII, was promoted to colonel.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 190517-D-D0439-0238C

Dole received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with "V" device for his attempt to assist a downed radioman during his service. The injuries left him with limited mobility in his right arm and numbness in his left arm. He received an honorary promotion to Army colonel in a May 2019 ceremony held at the World War II Memorial in the nation's capital. 

Two soldiers in uniform flank a man in a wheelchair while speaking with him.
Promotion Ceremony
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. MIlley, left, speaks with former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole after Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, right, presented Dole with a box bearing the colonel rank as part of an honorary promotion ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington, May 16, 2019. Dole was medically discharged as a captain after being severely wounded in World War II.
Photo By: Sean Kimmons, DOD
VIRIN: 190516-D-HG842-006

In his memoir, titled "A Soldier's Story," Dole wrote that he and his fellow World War II veterans were not unique in their service to the nation.

"It's said often that my generation is the greatest generation," he wrote. "That's not a title we claimed for ourselves. Truth be told, we were ordinary Americans fated to confront extraordinary tests. Every generation of young men and women who dare to face the realities of war — fighting for freedom, defending our country, with a willingness to lay their lives on the line — is the greatest generation."

Government leaders applaud Sen. Robert Dole, who is seated in a wheelchair among them.
Congressional Gold Medal
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence join congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to celebrate the life and career of former Senator Robert Dole and to honor him with the Congressional Gold Medal. Jan. 17, 2018.
Photo By: Erin Granzow, U.S. House of Representatives
VIRIN: 180117-D-HG842-001
Three men in suits sit together while reacting to a speech.
Ceremony Honors
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence sit alongside former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring Dole on Capitol Hill, Jan. 17, 2018..House of Representatives photo by Franmarie Metzler
Photo By: Franmarie Metzler, U.S. House of Representatives
VIRIN: 180117-D-HG842-002A

After leaving public life, Dole worked at a Washington law firm and became a television spokesman for commercial products and a political commentator. He also led the Federal City Council, a group of business, civic and education leaders interested in economic development in Washington.

He served as the national chairman for the World War II Memorial campaign to raise enough money for the national memorial, and he also attended and advocated at events for veterans and people with disabilities.

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