There are some good tributes circling today about the life of Senator Daniel Inouye, who had represented Hawaii in Congress since the state joined the Union back in 1959 until he died yesterday. However, this little biographical nugget stuck out.
From the entry on Daniel Inouye from an Asian-American resource site:
In the fall of 1944, Inouye’s unit was shifted to the French Vosges Mountains and spent two of the bloodiest weeks of the war rescuing a Texas Battalion surrounded by German forces. The rescue of “The Lost Battalion” is listed in the U.S. Army annals as one of the most significant military battles of the century. Inouye lost ten pounds, became a platoon leader and won the Bronze Star and a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant.
Back in Italy, the 442nd was assaulting a heavily defended hill in the closing months of the war when Lieutenant Inouye was hit in his abdomen by a bullet which came out his back, barely missing his spine. He continued to lead the platoon and advanced alone against a machine gun nest which had his men pinned down. He tossed two hand grenades with devastating effect before his right arm was shattered by a German rifle grenade at close range. Inouye threw his last grenade with his left hand, attacked with a submachine gun and was finally knocked down the hill by a bullet in the leg.
Dan Inouye spent 20 months in Army hospitals after losing his right arm. On May 27, 1947, he was honorably discharged and returned home as a Captain with a Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest award for military valor), Bronze Star, Purple Heart with cluster and 12 other medals and citations.
With Inouye gone and his fellow Hawaiian counterpart Daniel Akaka’s impending retirement, the only remaining member of the Senate to have served in World War II is New Jersey’s Frank Lautenberg.