Senator-Daniel-Inouye.jpg

RIP: Daniel Inouye, 1924-2012

This just in from The Fix blog at the Washington Post:

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye has died at age 88, his office confirmed Monday night. His last words, according to a statement released by his staff, were “Aloha”.

2012 was Inouye’s 50th year in the Senate, second only to Robert Byrd in all of American history. He had represented Hawaii in Congress since it achieved statehood in 1959. 

Inouye was not a man most of us at Ricochet would have frequently agreed with on politics. But in the bigger picture, that was of little consequence: he was an American hero. With apologies for referencing Wikipedia, here was his finest moment:

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Tuscany, Italy called Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint along the strip of German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, which represented the last and most dogged line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach; ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his Thompson submachine gun. After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.

As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore”.[13]

 Inouye’s horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, “nobody called off the war!”[14]The remainder of Inouye’s mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him.[15]

Although Inouye had lost his right arm, he remained in the military until 1947 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.

Senator Daniel Inouye. Rest in Peace.

  1. Eric Jablow

    He was also honorable in the enemies he had; it was  John J. Wilson, John Erlichman’s lawyer, who dubbed him “The Little Jap” during the Senate Watergate hearings.

  2. Mama Toad

    Beautiful story, Troy. Thank you for sharing. I just read it to all present here at Toad Hall tonight.

    Truly a hero. Aloha.

  3. KC Mulville

    I’m reminded of George McGovern, who died recently. For all the liberalism, was a hero in World War II as a pilot.

    I don’t mind honoring such  men. 

  4. Tommy De Seno
    C

    Medal of Honor winner.  Well deserved. Aloha, good man.

  5. Shane McGuire

    Wow! Simply amazing.

  6. Rachel Lu
    C

    He was featured in Ken Burns’ “The War”, but oddly, even more than the amazing battlefield story, the bit that stuck with me was when he described the final exchange with his father as they drove to the train station for Inouye’s departure. Early morning, deserted streets. His dad’s final message was something to the effect of: “this country has been good to us, and given us opportunities we would never have imagined possible. So do your duty honorably and don’t disgrace the family. If it should be necessary for you to die, face it like a man.” My husband remarked appreciatively that there are not many fathers today who could give such a speech to their sons. But particularly in light of the United States’ treatment of Japanese Americans during that war, I found that story quite moving.

  7. with me where I am

    Truly heroic. If I were to watch such actions on the movie screen I would take them to be ridiculous hyperbole. Wow.

  8. Tom Lindholtz

    They broke the mold.

  9. Reckless Endangerment

    Sen. Inouye: a firm reminder that your political adversaries need not be your mortal ones.

    RIP

  10. Pseudodionysius
    Rachel L.: He was featured in Ken Burns’ “The War”, but oddly, even more than the amazing battlefield story, the bit that stuck with me was when he described the final exchange with his father as they drove to the train station for Inouye’s departure. Early morning, deserted streets. His dad’s final message was something to the effect of: “this country has been good to us, and given us opportunities we would never have imagined possible. So do your duty honorably and don’t disgrace the family. If it should be necessary for you to die, face it like a man.” My husband remarked appreciatively that there are not many fathers today who could give such a speech to their sons. But particularly in light of the United States’ treatment of Japanese Americans during that war, I found that story quite moving. · 1 hour ago

    That’s two incredible stories in one post. 

  11. The Mugwump

    I knew the senator’s son quite well.  We worked together for a time at the same company in D.C.  ”Kenny” was named after his father, but he always used his middle name (as if he could somehow escape the notoriety with a last name like Inouye!).  I recall the year the Democrats won back the senate during Reagan’s tenure, and everyone was curious where the senator would land (he was a senior senator even then!).  We supposed it would be something high profile like the Judiciary Committee, but Kenny said his dad would have none of it.  Senator Inouye took the chair of the Committee on Indian Affairs, “to do something for people who really got screwed” according to his son.

    RIP 

  12. dittoheadadt
    Rachel L.: He was featured in Ken Burns’ “The War”, but oddly, even more than the amazing battlefield story, the bit that stuck with me was when he described the final exchange with his father as they drove to the train station for Inouye’s departure. Early morning, deserted streets. His dad’s final message was something to the effect of: “this country has been good to us, and given us opportunities we would never have imagined possible. So do your duty honorably and don’t disgrace the family. If it should be necessary for you to die, face it like a man.” My husband remarked appreciatively that there are not many fathers today who could give such a speech to their sons. But particularly in light of the United States’ treatment of Japanese Americans during that war, I found that story quite moving.

    “My husband remarked appreciatively that there are not many fathers today who could give such a speech to their sons.”

    I know one father who couldn’t even finish reading the story with clear eyes, let alone having to live it.

    The word “heroic” doesn’t do justice to the man. RIP.

  13. Albert Arthur

    Wow… that’s all I can say at the moment. That and God bless him.

  14. Chris O.

    I heard that story some time ago. What a man. This is the type of politician whom you could battle all day long, then sit in the back of the chamber and swap stories. He seemed to understand what many of his colleagues (in both parties) forgot: an ‘enemy’ is someone that shoots at you, not someone you simply disagree with. Godspeed, Daniel Inouye and aloha.

  15. Mutant Scout

    Here’s a link to a well-written (but I caution “colorful” language) piece describing his actions in WWII:

    http://www.badassoftheweek.com/inouye.html

  16. Mickerbob

    Why that no good dirty pinko demo…..wait, I’m not on Daily Kos!

     

    An honorable hero and distinguished in service to the very end, he will be missed.

    RIP

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