John Kerry is an American politician who served as the 68th United States Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017. He is the second of four children born to Richard John Kerry, a Foreign Service officer and lawyer, and Rosemary Isabel Forbes, a nurse and social activist. He was the Democratic nominee in the 2004 presidential election. He graduated from Yale University in 1966 with a major in political science. Kerry enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1966, and between 1968 and 1969, he served an abbreviated four-month tour of duty in South Vietnam as officer-in-charge of a Swift Boat. For that service, he was awarded combat medals that include the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and three Purple Heart Medals. He appeared in the Fulbright Hearings before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs where he deemed United States war policy in Vietnam to be the cause of war crimes. He worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Massachusetts. He served as Lieutenant Governor under Michael Dukakis from 1983 to 1985 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984 and was sworn in the following January.On the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he led a series of hearings from 1987 to 1989 which were a precursor to the IranâContra affair. He was re-elected to additional terms in 1990, 1996, 2002, and 2008. He voted to authorize the President "to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein," but warned that the administration should exhaust its diplomatic avenues before launching war in 2002. He criticized George W. Bush for the Iraq War in his 2004 presidential campaign. He and his running mate, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, lost the election, finishing 35 electoral votes behind Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He returned to the Senate, becoming Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in 2007 and then of the Foreign Relations Committee in 2009. In 2013, he was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then confirmed by the U.S. Senate, assuming the office. Kerry retained the position until the end of Obama's tenure.