Friday, December 21, 2012

Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye Passes Away At Age 88

US Senator and Medal of Honor recipient Daniel Inouye passed away from respiratory complications at George Washington University Hospital on Monday. The Hawaiian senator, who became the longest-serving US Senator after the 2010 death of West Virginia democrat Robert Byrd, had held the office since 1963 and has represented the Aloha State in the nation's capital for as long as Hawaii has been a state, having been elected to Hawaii's at-large Congressional district shortly after it was granted statehood in 1959.

Inouye was also a decorated US Army veteran  who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an Army unit made up of second generation Japanese immigrants from across the US mainland and Hawaii- many of whom had relatives in internment camps at the time.

In April of 1945, while fighting in German-occupied Italy, Inouye was shot multiple times and severely wounded while charging a trio of German machine-gun nests. Despite being shot in the stomach and leg as well as losing his right arm to a nazi rifle-grenade, a wounded Inouye was able to destroy the first two bunkers with grenades and clear out the third with a burst from his Thompson submachine gun. Inouye's actions would earn him the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Cross. In 2000, President Clinton awarded Inouye and 19 other members of the 442nd Regimental Combat team the Medal of Honor. By 1947, Inouye was honorably discharged with the rank of captain and was said to have been convalescing at the same Michigan Army hospital as future Senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole.

On Thursday, Inouye lay in state at the Capitol building for his Senate and House colleagues before being moved to the National Cathedral for a memorial service on Friday. Inouye's body will then be flown to Hawaii for a memorial service in Honolulu before his burial at the Cemetery of the Pacific.

A letter from the Senator's office has reportedly requested that Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie appoint Representative Colleen Hanabusa [D- HI 1] to the vacant senate seat once he passed away.

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