Sen. Daniel Inouye Dies

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), World War II Medal of Honor recipient and the second-longest-serving Senator in US history, died from respiratory complications on Monday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., announced his staff. He was 88. “Tonight, our country has lost a true American hero,” said President Obama in a Dec. 17 statement. Born in September 1924, Inouye enlisted in the Army at age 17 shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II, he served with the 442 Regimental Combat Team that consisted entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Inouye lost his right arm charging a series of machine gun nests on a hill in San Terenzo, Italy, on April 21, 1945. His actions that day earned him the Medal of Honor. Inouye became Hawaii’s first Congressman after Hawaii became a state in 1959. In 1962, Hawaiians elected him to the Senate, a position he held since then. “The men and women of the Department of Defense have lost one of their most dedicated advocates, and I have lost a dear friend,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a statement. Panetta credited Inouye for being “one of the most stalwart and effective advocates of the Department of Defense, and a relentless champion of our men and women in uniform and their families.” Inouye served in the current Congress as Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, and as head of the committee’s defense panel. (Inouye’s Senate biography) (See also Clinton statement.)