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First openly gay leader of U.S. military branch calls his promotion ‘an incredible honor’

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WASHINGTON — As the  first gay head of a military service branch, Army Secretary Eric Fanning calls his elevation to the job “remarkable.” The Senate confirmed Fanning’s nomination last month. The move came five years after Congress repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, which banned opening gay service members from serving in the U.S. military if they acknowledged their sexual orientation.

Of his sexuality, Fanning tells NBC’s “Today” he initially preferred to have people talk about his qualifications. But he says, “Now, I embrace it.”

Asked if he’s had to any endure any harsh treatment at the Pentagon, Fanning says, “Careless comments, sure.”

FanningBut he says he hasn’t needed “to confront anyone.”

The 47-year-old Fanning tells NBC his sexuality “certainly has become more of a story as each rung in the career has taken place.”

He says he loves his job, but expects he’ll likely be leaving after the Obama administration ends. Fanning says that by next Jan. 21, “I imagine myself on a beach someplace.”