CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
Chuck Hagel was the 24th Secretary of Defense, serving from February 2013 to February 2015. He is the only Vietnam veteran and the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense. Hagel also served two terms in the United States Senate (1997-2009) representing the state of Nebraska.
Some of Hagel’s current commitments include serving on the Board ofTrustees of RAND; Advisory Boards of Deutsche Bank America and Corsair Capital; Senior Advisor to Gallup and to the McCarthy Group; Distinguished Executive in Residence at Georgetown University; Distinguished Statesman at the Atlantic Council; and Board of Directors of the American Security Project.
Previously, Secretary Hagel served on the Board of the Chevron Corporation and the Zurich Holding Company of America, was a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University, Co-Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Chairman of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee, and Co-Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Corporate Council. He served as a member of the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board, Secretary of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Nuclear Power, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Board of Directors and the Systemic Risk Council.
Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Hagel was president of McCarthy & Company, an investment banking firm in Omaha, Nebraska. In the mid-1980’s, Hagel co-founded VANGUARD Cellular Systems, Inc., a publicly traded corporation. He was President and CEO of the World USO, Private Sector Council (PSC), and Chief Operating Officer of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7 Summit). Hagel also served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Commissioner General of the 1982 World’s Fair.
He is the author of the book, America: Our Next Chapter and was the subject of a 2006 book by Charlyne Berens entitled, Chuck Hagel: Moving Forward.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Hagel and his wife, Lilibet, have a daughter (Allyn) and son (Ziller).
BOB MCDONALD, FORMER SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Robert A. McDonald served as the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs from July 2014 until January 2017. Prior to joining VA, Secretary McDonald was Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G). Under his leadership, P&G significantly recalibrated its product portfolio; expanded its marketing footprint, adding nearly one billion people to its global customer base; and grew the firm’s organic sales by an average of three percent per year. This growth was reflected in P&G’s stock price, which rose from $51.10 the day he became CEO to $81.64 on the day his last quarterly results were announced—a 60 percent increase from 2009 to 2013.
During his tenure, P&G was widely recognized for its leader development prowess. In 2012, Chief Executive Magazine named it the best company for developing leader talent. The Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, consistently cited P&G in its top-tier listing of the Best Companies for Leadership Study. The company received recognition for its environmental and social sustainability initiatives, including receipt of the Department of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence for P&G’s operations in Pakistan and Nigeria. In addition, using the company’s innovative water purification packets, P&G committed itself to the 2020 goal of “saving one life every hour” by annually providing two billion liters of clean drinking water to people in the world’s developing countries.
An Army veteran, Mr. McDonald served with the 82nd Airborne Division; completed Jungle, Arctic, and Desert Warfare training; and earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and Senior Parachutist wings. Upon leaving military service, Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
Secretary McDonald graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the top 2 percent of the Class of 1975. He served as the Brigade Adjutant for the Corps of Cadets and was recognized by The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing, and Commerce as the most distinguished graduate in academics, leadership, and physical education. He earned an MBA from the University of Utah in 1978.
The Secretary is personally committed to values-based leadership and to improving the lives of others. He and his wife, Diane, are the founders of the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference at West Point—a biennial gathering that brings together the best and brightest young minds from the best universities around the world and pairs them with senior business, NGO, and government leaders in a multi-day, interactive learning experience.
The recipient of numerous leadership awards and honorary degrees, in 2014, Secretary McDonald was awarded the Public Service Star by the President of the Republic of Singapore for his work in helping to shape Singapore’s development as an international hub for connecting global companies with Asian rms and enterprises.
Secretary McDonald and his wife are the parents of two grown children, and the proud grandparents of two grandsons.
JOHN LEHMAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
John Lehman served 25 years in the Naval Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed him Secretary of the Navy where he served until 1987. During his tenure, he built a 600 ship Navy, established a strategy of maritime supremacy, and reformed ship and aircraft procurement. Lehman is the author of numerous books, including Command of the Seas, Making War, and On Seas of Glory. He is chairman of J.F. Lehman & Company, a private equity investment firm. He also serves on the board of directors for several companies and foundations.
MiCHAEL W WYNNE, FORMER SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE
Mr. Wynne currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the George Mason University Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, and as a Director on the Air Force Academy Endowment Board.
He is Chairman of Hackproof Technologies; a Cyber Security Company. He is a member of the Board of VT Systems Inc, and a Strategic Advisor to M-International Corp. and Chair of two Subsidiaries, The Battelle Memorial Institute as well as MITRE Corp.
He was the 21st Secretary of the Air Force, and before that the Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics in the office of the Secretary of Defense both spanning 2001 to 2008.
He graduated from West Point in 1966, and has advanced degrees both in Business (MBA) from the University of Colorado, and in Engineering (MSEE) from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is as well a graduate of the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School.
He served in the Air Force for seven years, finishing as Assistant Professor of Astronautics at the Air Force Academy. He contributed to the AC/130 Spectre Gunship. He spent 3 years with Lockheed Martin Corp as the General Manager for Space Launch, and twenty three years with General Dynamics working in aircraft, armored vehicles, and in their Corporate Offices, serving as President of their Space Division participating in its sale to Martin Marietta, he retired as Senior Vice president from General Dynamics.
He was a partner in the Nextgen Investment fund, and Chairman of two small internet based technology companies prior to entering government service in 2001.
He has published numerous articles, and been a contributor in such diverse areas as Cyber war, energy, acquisition, and defense budgeting in defense related and general news outlets.
He is married and has four married daughters.
General Hugh Shelton, (Ret.) U.S. Army
General Henry Shelton is a 38 year veteran of the United States Army who, in 1996, was promoted to general and became Commander in Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command. He then became the 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1997. General Shelton has been honored with various military awards including four Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, and the Purple Heart. Congress bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal on him on 2002. He currently holds board seats in a number of Fortune 500 companies.
General Peter Pace, (Ret.) U.S. Marine Corps
General Peter Pace served more than 40 years in the United States Marine Corps, where he held command at virtually every level, beginning as a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam. He is the first Marine to ever serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008, the highest civilian honor a president can bestow. General Pace is currently serving on the Board of Directors of several corporate entities involved in management consulting, private equity, and IT security. He is Chairman of the Board for the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation; a long-time Board of Directors member for the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, and serves as an advisor to Our Military Kids.
Admiral William J. Fallon, (Ret.) U.S. Navy
Retired Admiral William J. Fallon is a 40 year veteran of the U.S. Navy after a distinguished career of military and strategic leadership. He led U.S. and Allied forces in eight separate commands and played a leadership role in military and diplomatic matters at the highest levels of the U.S. government. As head of U.S. Central Command, Admiral Fallon directed all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, focusing on combat efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He led the U.S. Pacific Command for two years, directing political-military activities in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, he is chairman of CounterTack Inc., a partner in Tilwell Petroleum, LLC, an advisor to several other businesses, a distinguished fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses and on the Boards of several non-profit organizations.
General Norton Schwartz, (Ret.) U.S. Air Force
Gen. Norton "Norty" Schwartz retired as the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force (CSAF)on Oct 1, 2012, after serving over 39 years in the Air Force. A graduate of the US Air Force Academy, General Schwartz began his service as a pilot with the airlift out of Vietnam in 1975, and was the first CSAF who piloted special operations transport planes and helicopters as a primary discipline. He helped lead a joint special operations task force during the Gulf War in 1991 and later served as the strategic planner for the Air Force, the second-in-command of the US Special Operations Command and the senior operations officer for the US armed forces. He was the head of US Transportation Command, managing major elements of the Department of Defense transportation system and supply chain, and was appointed CSAF in 2008. General Schwartz made a number of innovations during his time as Chief, including shifting emphasis from traditional aircraft to remotely piloted vehicle missions, strengthening execution and oversight of nuclear deterrence activities and a range of still classified efforts.
ADMIRAL ERIC T. OlsON, (RET.) U.S. NAVY
Admiral Eric T. Olson retired from the United States Navy in 2011 after more than 38 years of military service. He served in special operations units throughout his career, deployed for several contingency operations, commanded at every level. Recognized for both service and valor, his awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star and appointment as as Officer in the French Legion of Honor. Admiral Olson was the first Navy SEAL officer to be promoted to three- and four-star ranks.
Admiral Olson's career culminated as the head of the United States Special Operations Command, where he was responsible for the mission readiness of all Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations forces. In this capacity, he led over 60,000 people and managed an annual budget in excess of ten billion dollars.
Admiral Olson is now an independent consultant who supports a wide range of private and public sector organizations. Among his current endeavors, he is an Adjunct Faculty Member in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, a Director of Iridium Communications, Inc. and Under Armour, Inc., a Director of the non-profit Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and a senior advisor to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Master Sergeant Leroy Petry, (Ret.) U.S. Army
Leroy joined the Army in September 1999 and deployed eight times with the 75th Ranger Regiment in support of overseas contingency operations with two tours to Iraq and six tours to Afghanistan. Petry enjoyed serving in the Army, and in his words, "If I can’t go to the fight, I can help the men who are wounded, injured or ill."
On May 26, 2008, Leroy A. Petry distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the vicinity of Paktya Province, Afghanistan. As a Weapons Squad Leader with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Staff Sergeant Petry moved to clear the courtyard of a house that potentially contained high-value combatants. While crossing the courtyard, Staff Sergeant Petry and another Ranger were engaged and wounded by automatic weapons fire from enemy fighters. Still under enemy fire, and wounded in both legs, Staff Sergeant Petry led the other Ranger to cover. He then reported the situation and engaged the enemy with a hand grenade, providing suppression as another Ranger moved to his position. The enemy quickly responded by maneuvering closer and throwing grenades. The first grenade explosion knocked his two fellow Rangers to the ground and wounded both with shrapnel. A second grenade then landed only a few feet away from them. Instantly realizing the danger, Staff Sergeant Petry, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, deliberately and selflessly moved forward, picked up the grenade, and in an effort to clear the immediate threat, threw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers. As he was releasing the grenade it detonated, amputating his right hand at the wrist and further injuring him with multiple shrapnel wounds. Although picking up and throwing the live grenade grievously wounded Staff Sergeant Petry, his gallant act undeniably saved his fellow Rangers from being severely wounded or killed. Despite the severity of his wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry continued to maintain the presence of mind to place a tourniquet on his right wrist before communicating the situation by radio in order to coordinate support for himself and his fellow wounded Rangers.
Rocky Bleier's story - a gripping tale of courage on both the football fields of America and the battle fields of Vietnam - has held audiences in rapt attention for years. Not falling within the ideal of what a running back should look like, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Pittsburgh Steelers only considered him a late round pick. But before the season ended that first year, he was drafted again…this time by the United States Army. At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began. For more than two years, he drove himself. Little by little he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also eventually became a starting running back on a team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century.
CAPTAIN CHARLIE PLUMB, (RET.) U.S. NAVY
Captain Charlie Plumb has lived what he believes to be the American Dream. As a farm kid from Kansas, he fantasized about airplanes although he felt certain he would never have the opportunity to pilot one. It would be the United States Navy who afforded Plumb the opportunity to live out that dream.
After graduating from the Naval Academy, Plumb completed Navy Flight Training and reported to Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego where he flew the first adversarial flights in the development of what would be called The Navy Fighter Weapons School, currently known as “TOP GUN”. The next year, Plumb’s squadron the Aardvarks launched on the Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk with Fighter Squadron 114 to fly the Navy’s hottest airplane, the F-4 Phantom Jet. Code named “Plumber”, Charlie Plumb flew 74 successful combat missions over North Viet Nam and made over 100 carrier landings. On his 75th mission, just five days before the end of his tour, Plumb was shot down over Hanoi, taken prisoner, tortured, and spent the next 2,103 days as a Prisoner Of War.
Following his repatriation, Plumb continued his Navy flying career in Reserve Squadrons where he flew A-4 Sky Hawks, A-7 Corsairs and FA-18 Hornets. His last two commands as a Naval Reservist were the on the Aircraft Carrier Corral Sea, and at a Fighter Air Wing in California. He retired from the United States Navy after 28 years of service.
To this day, Captain Plumb continues to fly left-seat at every opportunity. He has personally owned 8 airplanes, the most treasured being a World War II PT-19 Open-Cockpit Antique. He currently owns a Rutan-designed experimental single-engine Long-Eze.