Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), 88, who served the Aloha State in Congress for more than 50 years, died Monday in Bethesda, Md. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Inouye “was the person every American aspires to be.”
His courage under fire, visionary leadership and love for his country and his constituents are an inspiration for everyone. From a war hero to a United States senator, Sen. Inouye exemplified America’s values. He fought valiantly, broke down barriers and was a fierce advocate for what is right and good. Our nation lost an American hero yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
He was a World War II hero who served in the first Japanese-American unit allowed in combat. Inouye suffered serious wounds and lost his right arm when the platoon he was leading was pinned down by three German machine gun emplacements in a battle near San Terenzo, Italy. Already shot once in the stomach, Inouye destroyed one emplacement with a hand grenade and another with his submachine gun fire. The New York Times writes today:
He was crawling toward the third when enemy fire nearly severed his right arm, leaving a grenade, in his words, “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore.” He pried it loose, threw it with his left hand and destroyed the bunker. Stumbling forward, he silenced resistance with gun bursts before being hit in the leg and collapsing unconscious.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Following the war he served in the territorial legislature and when Hawaii became a state in 1959 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1962 he won a seat in the U.S. Senate. Inouye was a prominent figure in the Senate hearings on the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals. He was a strong advocate for civil rights, social justice, anti-poverty programs, education and other vital family services.
Read more about Inouye’s life and career from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.