MILITARY

Hagel recalls Army roots and Vietnam combat as he wraps up his farewell tour

With a stop at this desert Army post on the last leg of his farewell tour as Pentagon chief, Chuck Hagel is coming full circle.

In 1967, Hagel arrived at Fort Bliss for basic training, soon to be shipped to Vietnam for a life-changing war experience that gave him the distinction, nearly a half-century later, of being the only enlisted combat veteran to serve as secretary of defense.

He abruptly resigned Nov. 24 under pressure from President Barack Obama, cutting short a tenure that never seemed to gain full traction after starting on a sour note in February 2013 with a contentious Senate confirmation hearing. Hagel agreed not to leave until his successor was in place; Ashton Carter, the nominee, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate in February.