Dan Inouye had been a Senator from Hawai’i for 50 years. He was first elected to the US Senate in 1962. He passed away this afternoon at 12:01pm HST in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center of respiratory difficulties. He was 88 years old.
It’s hard to imagine a Hawai’i without the Senator. He had risen to be President Pro Tem of the Senate, third in the line of succession to the Presidency. He was Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He fought very hard for Hawai’i’s interests in that body and was never shy about it.
In an interview (.pdf) four years ago he reminisced about his early days in Hawai’i, about his war and his 22-month rehab in the same hospital with future Senators Phil Hart and Bob Dole, and about his personal life.
The man was a war hero too; he won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his action during the fight which cost him his arm in World War II. His citation reads in part:
While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest.
Goodbye, Senator. Everyone in this state will miss you.