Daniel K. Inouye
United States Senator (deceased)
Senator Daniel K. Inouye was born in
Honolulu, Hawaii on September 7, 1924, and was named after a
Methodist minister who had adopted his mother. Young Dan Inouye
attended Honolulu public schools and earned pocket money by
parking cars at the old Honolulu Stadium and giving haircuts to
fellow students. Most of his earnings were spent on a flock of
homing pigeons, a postage stamp collection, parts for crystal
radio sets and chemistry sets.
On December 7, 1941, the fateful day
of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 17-year-old Dan Inouye
was one of the first Americans to handle civilian casualties in
the Pacific war. He had taken medical aid training and was
pressed into service as head of a first-aid litter team. He saw a
"lot of blood" and did not go home for a week.
In March 1943, 18-year-old Dan Inouye,
then a freshman in pre-medical studies at the University of
Hawaii, enlisted in the U.S. Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team,
the famed "Go For Broke" regiment.
Inouye was soon promoted to the rank
of Sergeant and was designated as a combat platoon leader during
the Italian campaign. He slogged through nearly three bloody
months of the Rome Arno campaign with the U.S. Fifth Army.
In the fall of 1944, Inouye's unit was
shifted to the French Vosges Mountains and spent two of the
bloodiest weeks of the war rescuing a Texas Battalion surrounded
by German forces. The rescue of "The Lost Battalion" is listed in
the U.S. Army annals as one of the most significant military
battles of the century. Inouye lost ten pounds, became a platoon
leader and won the Bronze Star and a battlefield commission as a
Back in Italy, the 442nd was
assaulting a heavily defended hill in the closing months of the
war when Lieutenant Inouye was hit in his abdomen by a bullet
which came out his back, barely missing his spine. He continued
to lead the platoon and advanced alone against a machine gun nest
which had his men pinned down. He tossed two hand grenades with
devastating effect before his right arm was shattered by a German
rifle grenade at close range. Inouye threw his last grenade with
his left hand, attacked with a submachine gun and was finally
knocked down the hill by a bullet in the leg.
Dan Inouye spent 20 months in Army
hospitals after losing his right arm. On May 27, 1947, he was
honorably discharged and returned home as a Captain with a
Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest award for
military valor), Bronze Star, Purple Heart with cluster and 12
other medals and citations.
His Distinguished Service Cross was
recently upgraded to a Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award
for military valor. He received that medal from the President of
the United States on June 21, 2000.
With financial assistance from the G.I.
Bill, Inouye graduated from the University of Hawaii and the
George Washington University Law School. Then, he returned to
Hawaii and served as a Deputy Public Prosecutor for the city of
Honolulu. He broke into politics in 1954 with his election to the
Territorial House of Representatives. He later won election to
the Territorial Senate.
When Hawaii became a state on August
21, 1959, Daniel Inouye won election to the United States House
of Representatives as the new state's first Congressman. He was
reelected to a full term in 1960. Elected to the United States
Senate in 1962, Inouye is currently serving his seventh
consecutive term in the Senate.
Senator Inouye has championed the
interests of Hawaii's people throughout his career. In 1993, he
was instrumental in engineering the restoration and return of
Kahoolawe, an island that had been used as target practice by the
military, to the State of Hawaii. He has also fought for improved
education and health care for all children, additional jobs for
Hawaii's economy, health and human services in rural communities,
affordable housing, and the protection of America's natural
A nationally known leader and the
third most senior member of the United States Senate, Senator
Inouye has played a major role in shaping the defense policies of
the United States. He has worked to strengthen the armed forces,
and enhance the quality of life for military personnel and their
To commemorate the third anniversary
of Hawaii statehood, Congressman Leo O'Brien of New York
reminisced about Senator Inouye's arrival on the national
political scene. His recollection of the day Inouye took the oath
of office in the House of Representatives was recorded in the
Tuesday last was the third anniversary
of the admission of Hawaii. Today is the third anniversary of one
of the most dramatic and moving scenes ever to occur in this
House. On that day, a young man, just elected to Congress from
the brand new state, walked into the well of the House and faced
the late Speaker Sam Rayburn.
The House was very still. It was about
to witness the swearing in, not only of the first Congressman
from Hawaii, but the first American of Japanese descent to serve
in either House of Congress.
"Raise your right hand and repeat
after me," intoned Speaker Rayburn.
The hush deepened as the young
Congressman raised not his right hand but his left and he
repeated the oath of office.
There was no right hand, Mr. Speaker.
It had been lost in combat by that young American soldier in
World War II. Who can deny that, at that moment, a ton of
prejudice slipped quietly to the floor of the House of