Daniel K. Inouye, who represented Hawaii in the Senate for 50 years, died on Monday at Walter Reed hospital. He was 88.
Inouye served in the most decorated army unit in history - the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team made up entirely of Japanese American soldiers. Almost all the members of the unit had family languishing in Roosevelt's concentration camps.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor in April for an action that occurred in April, 1945. Here is the citation for that award:
Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 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.
That last line is an understatement.
Inouye was an old fashioned liberal of the Hubert Humphrey mold. He could be a force for bi-partisanship when the occassion called for it and a fierce partisan otherwise. But he was that rare Senator who was almost universally respected on both sides of the aisle for his diligence, attention to detail, and comity.
A courtly man with old fashioned manners, he was a zealous guardian of Senate traditions. The Senate will be a far poorer place without him.