Daniel K. Inouye, senator from Hawaii, half-length portrait, seated office

Daniel Inouye

(September 7, 1924 - December 17, 2012)

The son of Japanese immigrants, Daniel Inouye was born and raised in Honolulu. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Inouye was only 17 years old, but he used his medical aid training as a local volunteer. A year later, he interrupted his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii to join the U.S. war effort. He enlisted in the U.S. Army's 442nd Regimental Combat team, the famed "Go for Broke" regiment of soldiers of Japanese ancestry.

After losing his right arm in battle in 1945, he spent 20 months in an Army hospital in Michigan. He was honorably discharged in 1947 with the rank of captain, returning home with a Distinguished Service Cross, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart with cluster and 12 other medals and citations. His Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which was presented to him by the president of the United States on June 21, 2000.

With help from the G.I. Bill, Inouye graduated from the University of Hawaii and George Washington University Law School. He began his career in local government, followed by service in both the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives and Senate. He became the first congressman from the new state of Hawaii in 1959, and was re-elected to a full term in 1960. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, where he is serving his eighth consecutive term.

During his distinguished congressional career, he has served as a member of the Watergate Committee, chairman of the Iran-Contra Committee and chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He has also championed the interests of Hawaii's people in areas such as education, health care, employment and protection of the state's natural resources.

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