Dick Cheney was nominated by President Bush to be Secretary of Defense on March 10, 1989. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate just one week later.
He was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, but he grew up and attended school in Wyoming, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Wyoming. He was first attracted to Washington in 1968 for a congressional fellowship, while he was a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Wisconsin.
After several years of federal service in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Dick Cheney was chosen by President Ford to be White House Chief of Staff. When the Ford Administration ended, he returned home to Wyoming. In 1978 he was elected to serve as the state’s single congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was re-elected five times.
After just one term in the House, Congressman Cheney was elected Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. By the time he left Congress, in his sixth term, he had been elected House Minority Whip—the second ranking House Republican Leader.
As Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney had become responsible for shaping the future of the U.S. military in an age of profound and rapid change in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere around the world. He had directed two of the nation’s largest military operations in recent history—Just Cause in Panama in December of 1989, and Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August of 1990 to February of 1991. For his leadership in the Persian Gulf War, President Bush awarded him the Medal of Freedom.