Aug 31, 2014

Heroes: Daniel Inouye

Daniel Inouye was born on September 7, 1924 (died December 17, 2012); a Nisei  Japanese American. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Inouye served as a medical volunteer. In 1943, the US Army dropped the ban of enlistment of Japanese Americans and Inouye dropped his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii, enlisting in the US Army. He volunteered for the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team, promoted to sergeant in one year, assigned as platoon sergeant. He served in Italy in 1944, promoted for his brave actions in the battle to relieve the Lost Battalion to First Lieutenant. While leading an attack, a bullet struck his chest just above his heart, stopped by two silver dollars in his shirt pocket. He continued to carry the coins as lucky charms until they were lost during a battle in which he lost his arm.

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was seriously wounded while leading an assault in Tuscany, Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to lead the attack when he 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 submachinegun. Refusing treatment, he rallied his men for an attack against the second machine gun position, successfully destroying it before collapsing from blood loss. While his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the third bunker, raised himself up and his arm to throw his last grenade. A German soldier fired a rifle grenade, striking Inouye's right elbow, severing most of his arm with his grenade still clenched in his dismembered fist. While the German in the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from is useless right hand and used his left hand to throw the grenade into the bunker, destroying it. Stumbling to his feet, he silenced the last of the German resistance using a Thompson with his left hand before being wounded in the leg, tumbling down the hill unconscious. Awaking to see his men hovering over him, his comment as he was being carried away was: “Nobody called off the war!”
Lt. Inouye remained in the US Army until 1947, despite losing his arm. While in the hospital recovering from his wounds, Inouye met future congressman Bob Dole, a fellow patient. Dole talked about running for Congress after the war, which both of them did in a few years. The two remained lifelong friends.
Inouye became a senator and remained in office during nine terms before his death at 88 years old.
In 2000, Inouye's Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

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