"Washington is the only place in the world you can see a prominent person walking down Lovers' Lane holding his own hand," Gates joked.
The troops appreciated his Washington one-liners. "Washington is the place where those who travel the high road of humility encounter little heavy traffic," Gates joked. "A place where so many people are lost in thought because it's such unfamiliar territory."
So, 60 Minutes asked him why he agreed to be Secretary of Defense for President Bush and to stay on under President Obama.
"I do it because it's my duty," Gates said. "And I do it almost exclusively for these young men and women in uniform out here. And whatever I can do to help them, the rest is all fluff as far as I'm concerned."
He takes his commitment to the troops very personally.
"I know you went to Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran's Day and you went to see who had died on the day you were sworn in," Couric remarked. "Why did you do that?"
"It just mattered to me. And I keep track of the number who have died and the number who have been wounded on my watch," he replied.
"Since the hour I was sworn in as Secretary of Defense, 1,327 American men and women in uniform have been killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan; 10,443 have been wounded. Each of them is in my thoughts and prayers every day," Gates said during a speech at Texas A&M.
Bob Gates takes his work home with him. He goes to bed at 11 and gets up at 5 a.m. And he avoids the Washington dinner circuit.
"But even if you don't like Washington, you like your job. Don't you?" Couric asked.
"The truth of the matter is being Secretary of War in a time of war is a very painful thing. And it's not a job anybody should like," Gates said. "How can you like a job when you go to Walter Reed and you know you sent those young men and women in harm's way? Every single person in combat today I sent there. And I never forget that for a second. So no, I don't enjoy my job."
Produced by Robert Anderson and Lori Beecher