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Daniel Inouye (DDG-118)

Daniel Ken Inouye -- born in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, on 7 September 1924 -- attended the public schools of Honolulu, graduating from President William McKinley High School. He began premedical studies at the University of Hawaii, but during World War II volunteered as a private in the United States Army in 1943. Inouye served in the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team, composed primarily of Nisei, second generation Japanese American soldiers, many of whom ironically volunteered from their internment camps. The determined soldier demonstrated leadership skills that enabled him to rapidly rise in the ranks and become a platoon sergeant. He fought against the Germans in the Rome-Arno Campaign in Italy in 1944, before shipping out with his regiment to France for the campaign in the Vosges Mountains of Alsace. Inouye took part in the fighting to relieve the “Lost Battalion” of the 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Division, comprising primarily Texas Army National Guardsmen, surrounded by German troops. The young platoon leader entered the battle carrying a pair of silver dollars in his shirt pocket, and at one point an enemy round struck him in the chest just above his heart, but the coins deflected the bullet. Inouye subsequently carried the money as good luck charms. During this campaign Inouye was commissioned a second lieutenant. Following this fighting, the regiment returned to the Italian theater.

On 21 April 1945, Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action, while serving with the regiment’s Company E in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. He skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire while they attacked a defended ridge guarding an important rail junction. Inouye deployed his men in a swift enveloping movement, and they captured an artillery and mortar post. The Germans fought fiercely from bunkers and rock formations, and their crossfire from three machine guns halted the advance. With compete disregard for his own safety, 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 knocked out a second machine gun nest. Although shot and wounded by a sniper, Inouye 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 remained at the head of his platoon until they broke the enemy resistance and his men deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, the Niseis killed 25 German soldiers and captured eight others. By Inouye’s gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, he enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and proved instrumental in seizing the ridge. His wound, however, proved severe, and the surgical team amputated his right arm. He ceased carrying his lucky coins after suffering through the harrowing battle and its aftermath, but on 21 June 2000 he belatedly received the Medal of Honor for his heroism in the battle.

Inouye retired as a captain in 1947, and the following year married Margaret S. Awamura, a union that produced one son, Kenny, who became a musician, and played guitar for the punk band Marginal Man. Inouye, meanwhile, graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1950 and George Washington University Law School in 1952. He was admitted to the bar in 1953 and commenced practice in Honolulu: becoming the assistant public prosecutor in that city (1953–1954); the majority leader in the Territorial House of Representatives (1954–1958); and a member of the Territorial Senate (1958–1959). When Hawaii gained admission to the Union, Inouye was elected to the Eighty-sixth Congress for the term beginning on 21 August 1959; reelected to the Eighty-seventh Congress, and served until 3 January 1963; and was not a candidate for renomination to the House of Representatives in 1962. Inouye was elected to the United States Senate in 1962; and reelected in 1968, 1974, 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, and again in 2010 for the term ending on 3 January 2017. His first wife Margaret died from cancer on 13 March 2006, and on 24 May 2008 he married Irene Hirano in a ceremony at Beverly Hills, Calif.

Despite losing his first wife, Inouye persevered with his political career and became the President Pro Tempore (28 June 2010–17 December 2012); chaired the Select Committee on Intelligence (Ninety-fourth and Ninety-fifth Congresses); and served on the Committee on Indian Affairs (One Hundredth to One Hundred Third Congresses; One Hundred Seventh Congress [3–20 January 2001; 6 June 2001–3 January 2003]); the Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (One Hundredth Congress); Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (One Hundred Tenth Congress); and the Committee on Appropriations (One Hundred Eleventh and One Hundred Twelfth Congresses).

Inouye died on 17 December 2012, and was interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Honolulu. In addition to the Medal of Honor, his decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously), European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. For additional information see Daniel Inouye: A Japanese American Soldier’s Valor in World War II at the National Park Service

Inouye poses proudly before the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team’s colors, the regimental motto, “Go for Broke,” just visible amidst the folds of the standard. (Undated or attributed Library of Congress Photograph, ‘Pain and Patriotism’ Daniel Inouye Describes Personal Saga, Library of Congress)
Inouye poses proudly before the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team’s colors, the regimental motto, “Go for Broke,” just visible amidst the folds of the standard. (Undated or attributed Library of Congress Photograph, ‘Pain and Patriotism’ Daniel Inouye Describes Personal Saga, Library of Congress)

(DDG-118: displacement 9,140; length 510'; beam 59'; draft 31'; speed 30+ knots; complement 314; armament 1 5-inch, Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for 96 BGM-109 Tomahawks, RGM-84 Harpoons, SM-2MR Standards, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSMs), and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 1 Close In Weapon System (CIWS), 2 25 millimeter, 4 machine guns, 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, and Kingfisher mine-avoidance system; aircraft 2 Sikorsky MH-60B/R Seahawks; class Arleigh Burke)

Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr., announced the selection of the name Daniel Inouye for DDG-118 on 23 May 2013. The Navy awarded the contract for the guided missile destroyer to Bath Iron Works at Bath, Maine, on 3 June 2013; and on 31 October 2014 the company began fabricating the ship. Daniel Inouye (DDG-118) was laid down on 14 May 2018; christened on 22 June 2019; and is sponsored by Mrs. Irene H. Inouye, widow of the late senator.

Detailed history pending.

Mark L. Evans
24 June 2019

Published: Mon Jun 24 08:28:58 EDT 2019