U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, 442nd Veteran
Daniel Inouye was born on September 7, 1924, in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1943 the United States allowed Japanese Americans to join the Army. Inouye left the University of Hawaii, where he was planning to become a medical doctor, volunteered and enlisted to be part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Advancing through the ranks, Inouye was promoted to Second Lieutenant. In Italy, he was critically wounded and almost exactly 55 years after that, he would receive the Medal of Honor for gallantry in combat.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
“Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on April 21, 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.“
After recovering from his wounds, he returned to the University of Hawaii to complete his studies, switching to economics and graduating in 1950. He earned his law degree in 1952 from the George Washington University Law School.
He served in the Hawaii territorial House of Representatives, and when Hawaii became a state in 1959, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. After serving one full term in the House, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he remained until his death in December 2012.
In his eulogy, President Obama remarked that Inouye's "valor [in WWII] was so rooted in a deep and abiding love of this country. And he believed, as we say in Hawaii that we’re a single ‘ohana -- that we're one family. And he devoted his life to making that family strong."
Senator Inouye and his wife Irene were frequent guests at JAVA events and luncheons. JAVA is pleased to carry on the Inouye legacy of military and public service with the Inouye Memorial Scholarship.