Skip to Content

Donald Rumsfeld Fast Facts


CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.


Birth date: July 9, 1932

Birth place: Chicago, Illinois

Birth name: Donald Harold Rumsfeld

Father: George Donald Rumsfeld, a real estate salesman

Mother: Jeannette (Huster) Rumsfeld

Marriage: Joyce (Pierson) Rumsfeld (1954-present)

Children: Nick, Marcy and Valerie

Education: Princeton University, B.A. in Political Science, 1954

Military service: US Navy pilot and flight instructor, 1954-1957; US Navy Reserves, 1957-1989, retired as a captain

Other Facts

Rumsfeld has won the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977) and the Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University (1985).

Was captain of the football and wrestling teams at Princeton.


1957-1959 – Administrative assistant to Ohio Congressman David Dennison.

1959 – Joins the staff of Michigan Congressman Robert Griffin.

1960-1962 – Works at investment banking company, A.G. Becker in Chicago.

1962 – Is elected to the House of Representatives from Illinois’ 13th District. During Rumsfeld’s years in Congress, he supports the war in Vietnam and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, while opposing many of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” programs.

1964, 1966 and 1968 – Is reelected to the House.

1969 – Is appointed director of the Office of Economic Opportunity by President Richard Nixon.

1971-1972 – Counselor to President Nixon and Director of the Economic Stabilization Program.

1973-1974 – Ambassador to NATO.

1974-1975 – Chief of staff for President Gerald Ford.

1975-1977 – Secretary of defense under Ford.

1977-1985 – Returns to private life, as president and CEO of G.D. Searle & Co., a pharmaceutical firm.

1983 – Visits the Middle East on a diplomatic mission as a special representative of President Ronald Reagan.

1985 – Is appointed senior adviser to William Blair & Co., an investment bank based in Chicago.

1990-1993 – CEO of General Instrument Corp.

1996 – Economic adviser and national chairman for the presidential campaign of Bob Dole.

1997 – Is named chairman of the board of Gilead Sciences.

1998 – Chairs the bipartisan Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States.

December 28, 2000 – Nominated by President-elect George W. Bush as secretary of defense.

January 20, 2001 – Rumsfeld becomes the secretary of defense. At the time, he is the oldest person appointed as defense secretary. When Rumsfeld served as secretary of defense in the Ford Administration, he was the youngest person to hold that post.

March 23, 2004 – Rumsfeld testifies before the 9-11 Commission.

May 2004 – Makes a surprise trip to Iraq. Visits Abu Ghraib prison in the wake of a detainee abuse scandal.

November 8, 2006 – President Bush announces that Rumsfeld is stepping down and will be replaced by Robert Gates.

September 7, 2007 – The Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University, announces that Rumsfeld has been appointed as a distinguished visiting fellow. The move draws criticism from the school’s faculty, staff, students and alumni. Thousands sign an online petition objecting to the appointment.

December 11, 2008 – A Senate Armed Forces Committee report on detainee treatment is released. The committee concludes that Rumsfeld’s authorization of harsh interrogation techniques at the detention center in Guant√°namo Bay directly caused the abuse of prisoners there.

February 2011 – Rumsfeld’s book, “Known and Unknown: A Memoir,” is published.

August 29, 2013 – “The Unknown Known,” Errol Morris’ documentary about Rumsfeld, premieres at the Telluride Film Festival.

June 6, 2015 – The Times of London publishes an article, “Bush was wrong on Iraq, says Rumsfeld.” In the story, Rumsfeld says he had doubts about the viability of establishing a democracy in Iraq. Days later, Rumsfeld tells CNN that his remarks do not contradict his previous statements defending the decision to invade Iraq.

January 2016 – Churchill Solitaire, a mobile app Rumsfeld helped develop, is released. The app is free, but a portion of the proceeds from the sale of upgrades and features benefit “charitable causes that support wounded military veterans and their families, and that advance the legacy and heritage of Winston Churchill.”

January 24, 2018 – George Washington University’s National Security Archive releases the first installment of an estimated 59,000 pages of short memos, nicknamed “snowflakes,” from when Rumsfeld served as defense secretary under Bush.

May 2018 – Rumsfeld’s book, “When the Center Held: Gerald Ford and the Rescue of the American Presidency,” is published.

December 25, 2018 – The movie titled “Vice,” starring Steve Carell as Rumsfeld, opens in US theaters.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content