John Kruse

Age: 58
Hometown: Orange County, Calif.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Married

John Kruse’s career in the Marine Corps took him all over the globe — and all over Washington.

Kruse has visited almost every country in the Middle East. He served in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the first Gulf war. Later, he spent a year living in Morocco, and another year overseeing anti-terrorism programs in Bahrain.

He also commanded a squadron that traveled throughout South America, conducting joint operations with military forces there. That’s where Kruse found the highlight of his travels — Paraguay.

“What I liked about Paraguay was that if you don’t speak Spanish, you can’t communicate,” Kruse says. “And you feel like you’ve gone back 300 or 400 years — I mean, they have cars, but you really feel that it’s frozen in time.”

After all that, it’s no surprise that Kruse also navigated several roles in Washington.

He was tapped to advise then-Vice President Dick Cheney during the Iraq war, then went to work for Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee after retiring from the Marine Corps in 2006.

“One of the best parts of the Hill was just the energy,” Kruse says. “The military kind of [says], ‘Oh yeah, they don’t get in until 9:00.’ Well, but 10 p.m., sometimes midnight, they’re still there.”

Kruse’s life has quieted down lately; he has settled in at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he has worked since leaving Capitol Hill. He was a boxer during his time at the Naval Academy and tries to keep active these days by running three times a week.

Kruse and his wife are also getting used to life as empty nesters. The youngest of their five children just headed off to college.

“I like Washington,” he says. “I knows its cliché, but nonetheless true, that once you’re here, it’s hard to go back to anywhere else.”

— Sam Baker

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