EL PASO — On his first day at his new job, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talked with service members and civilian employees at the Pentagon. He said he is proud to be joining their team and that will always be honest with them.
"You'll always know that you have a Secretary of Defense that will deal straight with you. I'll be honest. I'll be direct. I'll expect the same from you. I'll never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do. I will never ask anybody to do more than I wouldn't do. That's the story of your lives. I wouldn't be worthy if that was not the case," said Hagel.
Hagel is a Vietnam Veteran who earned two Purple Heart medals, one of which was for saving is own brother's life in combat.
He is also the first Pentagon Chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
Fort Bliss soldiers said they are looking forward to seeing how Hagel's experience will play a role in his decision making.
"The good thing about him being a former enlisted guy is that he's been in our boots. He's been in the enlisted troops' boots from the lower ranks, having to do those dirty details, mopping and shining and all that good stuff, so he's got an understanding from that level," said Master Sergeant Joel Peavy.
"He's really going to advise the Commander in Chief in positive roles and have it help soldiers all around," said Master Sergeant Kelly McCargo.
Hagel moves into the defense post just as the department faces billions in automatic spending cuts if the sequester begins this Friday.