Daniel Inouye of Hawaii dies at 88

Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012 in Politics

Daniel Inouye of Hawaii dies at 88

by Gina Hamilton

The most senior Senator in Congress, Democrat Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, died Monday at the age of 88.

Inhoye served as President Pro Tempore from 2010 to the time of his death, and was chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Inouye was born in Hawaii, and in 1941, was a medical volunteer during the Pearl Harbor attacks.  Of Japanese ancestry, he joined the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat team, and served mostly in Italy and in France.  In Italy, he was greviously injured during a machine gun attack.  He was shot in the stomach, but refused treatment in order to save members of his platoon by lobbing hand grenades into a machine gun nest.  He lost his right arm to a rifle grenade shot from the German line.

Due to his injury, Inouye gave up plans to become a surgeon and instead went back to college to study political science under the G.I. Bill.  Later, he earned a law degree from George Washington University.

He began his political career as territorial representative in Hawaii, then served in the territorial senate.  But during his first term, Hawaii became a state, and Inouye served in the U.S. House of Representatives, and finally, the U.S. Senate. He gained national prominence serving on the Watergate Committee, and the Iran-Contra Committee.  Prior to his death, he had just announced plans to run for a record tenth term in 2016, when he would have been 92 years old.

Inouye was part of the 'Gang of 14', a group of moderate senators who prevented a political crisis on judicial appointments. 

Inouye's wife of 57 years, Margaret "Maggie" Awamura Inouye, died of cancer on March 13, 2006.  Two years later, he quietly remarried Irene Hirano, who was president and founding chief executive officer of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California.  The Inouyes have a son, Kenny.

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