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Hawaii's nine-term senator, Daniel Inouye, dies at 88

December 17, 2012|By Ken Dilanian
  • Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) died Monday in Washington.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) died Monday in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the second-longest-serving senator in U.S. history and winner of the Medal of Honor for combat heroics in World War II, has died, his office announced in a statement. He was 88.

"His last words were, 'Aloha,'" his office said.

Inouye died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, with his wife, Irene, and his son, Ken, at his side. Last rites were performed by Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black, his office said.

A senator since 1963, Inouye in 2009 became chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he continued a long record of helping fund projects in his home state. From 1998 to 2003, he steered $1.4 billion to military projects in Hawaii, according to The Almanac of American Politics.

The son of Japanese immigrants, Inouye grew up in Honolulu, where he was teaching a first aid course at age 17 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  He enlisted in the Army in 1943, when it dropped its ban on Japanese Americans.

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Promoted to sergeant, he fought in Italy and France. On April 21, 1945, while leading an assault in Italy against the Germans, Inouye was shot in the stomach. He nonetheless attacked and destroyed two machine gun nests before being even more severely wounded, losing his right arm.

“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,” says his citation for the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award. “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.”

When asked in recent days how he wanted to be remembered, Inouye said, according to his office, "I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK."

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ken.dilanian@latimes.com

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