Caring enough to persevere, Daniel K. Inouye (1924-2012), born in Honolulu, was the grandson of Japanese immigrants who worked on the sugar plantations.
He became Hawaii's first U.S. Congressman, elected to the House of Representatives in 1959, then to the Senate four years later, where he served with distinction for over 50 years.
Inouye gained media attention in 1973 as a member of the Watergate Senate committee and in 1987 as chairman of the Iran-Contra investigations. In 1998, he was re-elected with 79% of the vote and many believe he is Hawaii's most important leader. "He's without peer among the people Hawaii has sent to Washington," said political researcher Roger H. Davidson.
Inouye was a World War II hero who led the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team of Nisei, second generation Japanese- Americans. In 1945, Inouye destroyed two German machine gun nests amid a grenade explosion that took his right arm.
The Senator, along with 21 others from the 442nd and 100th Infantry Battalion, was honored with the coveted Medal on Honor on this day in 2000 at the White House.
"I am deeply grateful to my nation for this extraordinary award. The making of a man involves many mentors. If I did well, much of the credit should go to my parents, grandparents, and the gallant men of my platoon. This is their medal. I will receive it on their behalf," Inouye said at the time.
Organized in Hawaii, the soldiers of the 442nd Team and 100th Battalion fought in France and Italy and were the most decorated and wounded units of their sizes in Army history. According to the Honolulu Advertiser in 2000, honors included: 20 Medals of Honor, 48 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars, and 9,468 Purple Hearts.
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