SHAKO: Hawaii’s Sen. Daniel Inouye, Medal of Honor Recipient, Dead at 88

December 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm 2 comments

Aloha ‘Oe

Another member of America’s greatest generation has died.

Senator Daniel Inouye, a member of the legendary Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team and a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for bravery, was 88.

Inouye died from respiratory complications at 5:01 p.m. Eastern Standard Time today (Dec. 17) at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, according to a statement from his office.

Sen. Inouye receives Medal of Honor from President Clinton(Inouye Senate Office website)

Sen. Inouye receives Medal of Honor from President Clinton
(Inouye Senate Office website)

As a Red Cross volunteer in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941, Inouye aided the wounded after the Pearl Harbor attack. Like thousands of other young nisei men – those whose parents had been born in Japan – 17-year-old Inouye enlisted to fight the Japanese — even though Japanese Americans on the West Coast were forcibly relocated to internment camps. Like nearly all Japanese Americans in the service, Inouye was sent to Europe to fight the Hitler’s Army.

Inouye was assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – which received seven Presidential Unit Citations, and produced 21 Medal of Honor winners as well as more than 9,000 Purple Heart medals for wounds suffered in battle. The 442nd motto was “Go For Broke.”

In Northern Italy in April 1945, Inouye – then a lieutenant – was attacking a series of German machine gun nests when his right arm was nearly severed by enemy fire. The arm was later amputated at a field hospital.

He received the Distinguished Service Cross – the Army’s second-highest decoration for bravery – at the time. But decades later, he and other Japanese-Americans veterans were presented with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony.

Lieutenant Daniel Inouye U.S. Army(Congressional Medal of Honor Society)

Lieutenant Daniel Inouye U.S. Army
(Congressional Medal of Honor Society)

At the ceremony in 2000, President Bill Clinton said the nation owes “an unrepayable debt” to Inouye and his fellow Asian-American soldiers. “Rarely has a nation been so well-served by a people it ill-treated,” Clinton said, according to USA Today.

Here is Inouye’s Medal of Honor citation:

Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Inouye went on to a distinguished career in Washington, serving as congressman and later senator from his native Hawaii after it gained statehood in 1959. At his death he was the senior member of the Senate.


Entry filed under: SHAKO, Traditions, Washington. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gpcox  |  December 18, 2012 at 6:41 am

    He will be missed.

  • 2. John M. Doyle  |  December 18, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Yes, he will.
    Especially on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the defense appropriations subcommittee — both of which he chaired. Everyone got a fair hearing but he kept things moving very efficiently.


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