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Think Tank

Quick Read: The Heroics of the Late Daniel Inouye, 1924-2012

There's a lot one can say about Daniel Inouye, the late U.S. Senator from Hawaii. Senator Inouye continuously served Hawaii in the U.S. Congress from the time of its statehood to the time of his death yesterday. He was the second-longest serving U.S. Senator in history and the highest ranking Asian American politician ever. 

Senator Inouye was the son of Japanese immigrants and was a medical volunteer at Pearl Harbor. When the United States government put an end to its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, Inouye signed up with the U.S. Army. He was promptly promoted to sergeant and eventually reached the rank of captain.

Inouye nearly died while leading an assault on a Nazi stronghold in Italy. His Medal of Honor citation pretty much says it all: 

SECOND LIEUTENANT DANIEL K. INOUYE, UNITED STATES ARMY, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. 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. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

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