17 Dec

Aloha, Senator Daniel Inouye: Sept 7, 1924 – Dec 17, 2012

                                       

“I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK.”
-Senator Daniel Inouye

America has lost a great American patriot buy levitra cheap onlinehref=”http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-usa-congress-inouye-idUSBRE8BG19420121218″>today- one of the good guys:

Inouye, who was chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and third in the line of presidential succession as the Senate’s senior member, died of complications from a respiratory illness, his office said in a statement.

“Aloha” was the last word he spoke, the statement said.

The son of a Japanese immigrant father and a Hawaii-born mother whose parents came from Japan, Inouye and his family were declared “enemy aliens” by the U.S. government at the outbreak of World War Two. Inouye would later rise to become the highest-ranking elected Asian-American official in U.S. politics.

Republicans and conservatives may have had their disagreements with the Senator from Hawaii on political matters, but his life-long service to his country is to be admired.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, sometime close to Christmas, the U.S. government gave thousands of Japanese-American citizens and Japanese immigrants the “4-C” designation, signifying “enemy alien.”

Inouye was one of many loyal Japanese-Americans who felt the burden of proving their loyalty to a country (their country) that held their families behind barbed-wired fences, concentrated in internment camps around the nation.

The all Japanese-American 100th Battalion, 442 Regimental Combat Team, became the most decorated unit in American military history.

For those who aren’t familiar with his wartime service, please read the following to understand what a badass he was (yes, Wikipedia- not perfect, but quick):

In 1943, when the U.S. Army dropped its ban on Japanese-Americans, Inouye curtailed his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army.[5] He volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team.[6] This army unit was mostly made up of second-generation Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.[7]

Inouye was promoted to the rank of sergeant within his first year, and he was given the role of platoon leader. He served in Italy in 1944 during the Rome-Arno Campaign before his regiment was transferred to the Vosges Mountains region of France, where he spent two weeks in the battle to relieve the Lost Battalion, a battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment that was surrounded by German forces. He was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant for his actions there. At one point while he was leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket.[8] He continued to carry the coins throughout the war in his shirt pocket as good luck charms until he lost them shortly before the battle in which he lost his arm.[9]

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Tuscany, Italy called Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint along the strip of German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, which represented the last and most dogged line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach; ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his Thompson submachine gun. After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.

As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore”.[10] Inouye’s horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, “nobody called off the war!”[11]

The remainder of Inouye’s mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him.[12]

Although Inouye had lost his right arm, he remained in the military until 1947 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. At the time of his leaving of the Army, he was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Inouye was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in this action, with the award later being upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton (alongside 19 other Nisei servicemen who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were believed to have been denied proper recognition of their bravery due to their race).[13] His story, along with interviews with him about the war as a whole, were featured prominently in the 2007 Ken Burns documentary The War.[14]

While recovering from war wounds and the amputation of his right forearm from the grenade wound (mentioned above) at Percy Jones Army Hospital, Inouye met future Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, then a fellow patient. While at the same hospital, Inouye also met future fellow Democrat and Senator Philip Hart, who had been injured during D-Day. Dole mentioned to Inouye that after the war he planned to go to Congress; Inouye beat him there by a few years. The two remained lifelong friends. In 2003, the hospital was renamed the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of the three WWII veterans.

Condolences to his family and friends. The country loses another hero from the Greatest Generation.

This entry was posted in military history, Obituaries, Politics, True Heroes. Bookmark the permalink. Monday, December 17th, 2012 at 10:13 pm
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4 Responses to Aloha, Senator Daniel Inouye: Sept 7, 1924 – Dec 17, 2012

  1. Gene Webb says: 1

    I’ve spent six and and a half years in Hawaii. This man is what is great about the islands. Selfless at the very least. I’m a retired CWO and my hats off to you sir, as I’m sitting here crying at my keyboard.

    ReplyReply
  2. FAITH7 says: 2

    Thanks Wordsmith….Very humbling indeed….

    I am compelled to repeat these sentiments:

    “Condolences to his family and friends. The country loses another hero from the Greatest Generation.”

    God Bless this brave soul..

    ReplyReply
  3. mathman says: 3

    I remember Sen Inouye.
    He was a member of the Senate Select Watergate Committee.
    In discussing attempts to influence him, either Haldeman or Erlichman referred to him as “Sen Ain’tNoWay”.
    In other words, the WH had no leverage on him.

    Now there is a tribute which should live forever.
    God grant that we should have more Senators like Daniel Inouye.

    ReplyReply
  4. Aleric says: 4

    I guess I have to be the dissenting voice here on Sen. Inouye, while he seemed to be an honorable man when he was younger, like Charlie Rangel when he entered politics the shine on his service was tarnished by the votes he cast and the bills he championed in Washington. I remember watching him rail against Reagan in the 80’s and go lock step with Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein on any law or bill that the liberals pushed thru Congress. He was a classic Liberal who in the end was more for himself and his party than he was for the American People.

    ReplyReply

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