Daniel Ken “Dan” Inouye, WWII veteran, Medal of Honor recipient and former senator from Hawaii, died of respiratory complications on December 17. He was 88-years-old.
Today in Hawaii, Inouye was remembered as an American hero whose legacy as a war veteran and longtime senator would be felt across his home state for years to come according to Mail Online.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were present at today’s ceremony along with Inouye’s widow Irene Inouye.
During an earlier ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, President Obama held back tears as he talked about how Inouye served as an inspiration to Obama when he was just a youngster. The president described the former senator as a man full of “grace and dignity.”
A Nisei Japanese American, Inouye was at the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 serving as a medical volunteer. In 1943, when the U.S. government dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, Inouye curtailed his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the U.S. Army.
The story most told about Inouye’s army days is how he lost his arm in the war.
On April 21, 1945, Inouye was leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge in Italy. 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.
His fellow soldiers took out the second bunker.
As Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, he raised himself up to throw his last grenade when he was struck by a rifle grenade that severed most of his right arm.
Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left.
He tossed the grenade into the enemy bunker and destroyed it.
Even after losing his arm, Daniel Inouye remained in the U.S. Army until 1947.
A 19-gun cannon salute was fired as Inouye’s coffin arrived for the service at Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the final resting place to thousands of World War II veterans.
Inouye began his political career as senator in 1963. At the time of his passing, he was the most senior U.S. senator.
For more on the story of Daniel Inouye, see the video accompanying this article.
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