Bob Dole, WWII Vet and Former Presidential Nominee, Dies at 98

by Leanne Stahulak

World War II veteran and three-time presidential candidate Bob Dole died in his sleep on Sunday at 98 years old.

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced his death earlier today, according to The New York Post. The foundation wrote on Twitter, “It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years. More information coming soon.”

Earlier this year, in February, Bob Dole announced that he’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. This was one of a host of other health problems plaguing Dole in recent years. But he said in a statement at the time that he planned to fight the cancer.

“Recently, I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. My first treatment will begin on Monday. While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” the former politician wrote on Twitter in February.

Bob Dole’s Long History of Service to America

Born in Russell, Kansas, on July 22, 1923, Bob Dole didn’t look into politics until after World War II ended. He served in the latter half of the war, receiving severe injuries from German machine-gun fire while fighting in Italy in 1945.

While dragging a radioman from the line of fire, Dole got shot in the upper back and right arm. He was just 21 years old at the time, but he spent the next three years recovering from the injuries. Although, per The New York Post, he still struggled with using his right arm and lost a lot of feeling in his left arm even after treatment.

But for his heroic efforts, the WWII vet received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor.

After the war, in 1950, Bob Dole entered politics. He won a two-year term in the Kansas House of Representatives and finished his college degree while serving his term. The politician graduated with a law degree from Wabash University in Topeka, Kansas.

Dole then turned his attention to Washington D.C. Starting in 1960, he served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. But in 1968, he ran for the U.S. Senate instead, serving in that position until 1996.

During his nearly 30 years in office, Dole served as the Senate Majority Leader twice for the Republican Party. He also ran for president three times and vice president once. In 1976, he joined Gerald Ford’s campaign as the vice presidential nominee, but Jimmy Carter won that presidential election.

Then, in 1980, Bob Dole entered the Republican presidential primary, but he quickly dropped out after Ronald Reagan’s victory. After Reagan’s second term concluded in 1988, Dole once again ran for president, battling George H. W. Bush in the primaries. Bush won out over Dole.

Finally, Bob Dole won the Republican party nomination in 1996. He dropped out of the U.S. Senate to focus solely on his campaign. But Dole lost the presidential election to Bill Clinton, who ran for his second term. Dole retired from politics after that.

But he still remained active in the industry. He joined a law firm in D.C., opened the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, and focused on fundraising for the National World War II Memorial. His legacy in U.S. service won’t soon be forgotten.