Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is a living legend. His tenacity in battle and scholarly demeanor earned him several nicknames among his Marines, including “Mad Dog” and “the Warrior Monk.”

Born James Norman Mattis on Sept. 8, 1950, he grew up in the state of Washington and joined the Marine’s Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) in 1969.

Secretary Mattis served a distinguished 44-year career in the Marine Corps, during which he led Marines in the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. He also served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander of Transformation and Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

After serving as commander of U.S. Central Command, he retired from the military in 2013 and worked as a consultant and scholar. In 2017, he was nominated by President Donald Trump and nearly unanimously confirmed as the 26th Secretary of Defense.

Secretary Mattis is known for his thoughtful leadership. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his meticulous planning involved a scale replica of the battlefield and soldiers wearing different-colored football jerseys representing military units. He would then carefully practice military maneuvers with his troops. In addition, he is a devoted student of military history whose personal library reportedly contains more than 7,000 books.

Secretary Mattis understands better than anybody the importance of fiscal responsibility. He once said that “no nation in history has maintained its military power if it failed to keep its fiscal house in order.”

Today, Concerned Veterans for American Foundation joins the thousands of Marines who have served under Secretary Mattis in wishing him a happy birthday.