Retired Army Capt. Bob Dole has been promoted to colonel.
The former senator, now 95 years old, registered for the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps in 1942, when he was a student at the University of Kansas. The following year, he was called to active duty.
Dole was severely wounded while deployed to Italy as an infantry lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division, and went on to receive two Purple Hearts and two awards of the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for his service. Dole's injuries left him without the use of his right arm and limited feeling in his left arm. He resigned his Army commission at the grade of captain.
"It is, of course, an honor for me personally," Dole said in comments relayed by a spokesperson Monday. "Many of my comrades in the 10th Mountain Division never made it back here after World War II. While the wounds I sustained were life-changing, I’ve never forgotten those brave soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless our men and women in uniform."
The Kansas politician and World War II veteran served in the U.S. Senate for 27 years, and was the Senate Majority Leader for 12 years.
The legislation authorizing Dole's promotion was pushed by two Republican colleagues from his home state of Kansas. Sen. Pat Roberts introduced the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran.
"Kansas’ favorite son, Senator Bob Dole, is a true American hero and has earned this honorary promotion to colonel by his countless acts of valor and contributions to the U.S. military during his time at war and later while serving in Congress," Sen. Roberts said Monday in an email from a spokesperson. "Senator Dole has always been an advocate for our men and women in uniform, and I’m proud the president signed this legislation to honor Dole with the promotion, which he has more than earned throughout his decades of service"
Dole has been known for his involvement with the nonprofit Honor Flight Network, which brings veterans from across the nation to visit The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Dole was Gerald Ford's running mate in his 1976 presidential campaign, which Ford lost to Jimmy Carter. Dole sought the Republican nomination in 1980 and 1988, finally winning it in 1996, an election he ultimately lost to incumbent Democrat Bill Clinton.