Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawai’i died today at Walter Reed Hospital. He was 88 years old. He has been one of Hawai’i’s senators since January 1963. Before that, he served as their House representative. I think it is worth remembering his heroic service in World War Two:

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.

He may be the most important person in modern Hawaiian history, including the current president of the United States. At the time of his death, he was serving as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. I expect that job will now fall to Patrick Leahy of Vermont. There will be a reshuffling of the committee chairs in the Senate.

But, we can leave that for another day. Sen. Inouye was an American hero before he ever became a senator. And then he became one of the most legendary senators in our country’s history. His last word was “Aloha.”

Aloha, Sen. Inouye. Thanks for everything.

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