In a written statement Monday, President-elect Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Wall Street executive and entrepreneur Vincent Viola as Secretary of the Army.
The son of Italian immigrants from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Viola as “living proof of the American dream” in a written statement.
“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” read a statement released by the Trump transition team.
The first member of his family to attend college, Viola is a 1977 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. During his senior year, Viola served as a company commander.
Following his graduation, Viola was commissioned a second lieutenant, was attached to the 101st Airborne Division, but left service after his father suffered a heart attack.
Viola later enrolled in New York Law School, earning his JD in 1983; he remained in the army reserves and eventually achieved the rank of major.
Arriving on Wall Street in the mid-1980s, Viola was a pioneer in electronic trading and started several businesses, one being Virtu Financial, founded in 2008 and made public in 2015. As chairman of Virtu, Viola has refused salary for three years.
Viola’s stake in Virtu Financial, roughly 68 percent, is estimated at $2.2 billion. In addition to his ventures on Wall Street, Viola owns the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League.
Viola also served as chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange from 2001–2004 and steered the exchange through the difficult period following the 9/11 attacks. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., Viola helped establish the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
“A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict,” Viola said in the statement after accepting his nomination to lead the department.
Viola is listed on Forbes top 400 wealthiest people in America, with a current estimated net worth of $1.78 billion.
[Reuters] [Forbes] [Photo courtesy Vice]