James Webb Biography
James Webb was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri on February 9, 1946. He grew up on the move, attending more than a dozen different schools across the U.S. and in England. He graduated from high school in Bellevue, Nebraska. First attending the University of Southern California on an NROTC academic scholarship, he left for the Naval Academy after one year. At the Naval Academy he was a four-year member of the Brigade Honor Committee, a varsity boxer, and was one of six finalists in the interviewing process for Brigade Commander during his senior year. Graduating in 1968 he chose a commission in the Marine Corps, and was one of 18 in his class of 841 to receive the Superintendent's Commendation for outstanding leadership contributions while a midshipman. First in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officer's Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, he then served with the Fifth Marine Regiment in Vietnam, where as a rifle platoon and company commander in the infamous An Hoa Basin west of Danang he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. He later served as a platoon commander and as an instructor in tactics and weapons at Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, and then as a member of the Secretary of the Navy's immediate staff, before leaving the Marine Corps in 1972.
Webb spent the "Watergate years" as a student at the Georgetown University Law Center, arriving just after the Watergate break-in in 1972, and receiving his J.D. just after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. While at Georgetown he began a six-year pro bono representation of a Marine who had been convicted of war crimes in Vietnam (finally clearing the man's name in 1978, three years after his suicide), won the Horan award for excellence in legal writing, and authored his first book, Micronesia and U.S. Pacific Strategy. He also worked in Asia as a consultant to the Governor of Guam, conducting a study of U.S. military land needs in Asia, and their impact on Guam's political future.
Webb has written six best-selling novels. He taught literature at the Naval Academy as their first visiting writer, has traveled worldwide as a journalist, and his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut earned him an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In government, Webb served in the U.S. Congress as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 1977 to 1981, becoming the first Vietnam veteran to serve as a full committee counsel in the Congress. During the Reagan Administration he was the first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs from 1984 to 1987, where he directed considerable research and analysis of the U.S. military's mobilization capabilities and spent much time with our NATO allies. In 1987 he became the first Naval Academy graduate in history to serve in the military and then become Secretary of the Navy. He resigned from that position in 1988 after refusing to agree in the reduction of the Navy's force structure during congressionally-mandated budget cuts.
Webb is currently the Senior U.S. Senator from Virginia. He sits on the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Veterans' Affairs, and the Joint Economic Committee.
Webb and his wife, Hong Le, live in Falls Church, Virginia. He has five children.
This biography was last updated on 06/08/2009.
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