Second Lt. Bob Dole nearly died when he was struck by a bullet or shell fragment in battle on a hillside in Italy in April 1945, near the end of World War II.

The impact shattered Dole's right shoulder, crushed a piece of his spine, permanently disabled his right arm and cost him some feeling in his left arm. He spent 39 months relearning how to walk, eat, bathe and dress.

This week's History Guy video at tells about how Dole — who turns 96 years old next Monday — went on to a life of public service.

Dole spent 35 years in the U.S. House and Senate and became the Republican Party's candidate for both vice president and president.

A native of Russell in western Kansas, the 6-foot-2 Dole lettered in football at the University of Kansas before serving in the Army. He was subsequently promoted to captain.

After the war, Dole went through a long rehabilitation process before earning bachelor's and law degrees from Washburn University. His first wife — the former Phyllis Holden, whom he married in 1948 — accompanied him to class, taking notes and writing test papers from Dole's dictation.

After finishing law school in 1952, Dole returned to Russell. He served as county attorney before winning election as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1961 to 1969.

Dole was then elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1969 to 1996. He ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 1976 on a ticket headed by incumbent President Gerald Ford.

After divorcing his first wife in 1972, Dole in 1975 married his current wife, Elizabeth Hansford Dole. She then served from 1983 to 1987 as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, from 1989 to 1990 as U.S. Secretary of Labor, from 1991 to 1999 as president of the American Red Cross and from 2003 to 2009 as a senator from North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Bob Dole served as leader of the Senate's Republicans from 1985 until he left office in 1996 after it became clear he was going to win the Republican Party's nomination for president. Dole lost that year's presidential election to Democratic incumbent President Bill Clinton.

Dole never again ran for office but has remained active in public life. He was honored by members of Congress last March when they unanimously passed a bill promoting him in the Army from captain to colonel. Dole accepted that honorary promotion in May.