Politics

December 17, 2012

Sen. Daniel Inouye, war hero and Watergate investigator, dies at 88

The influential Democrat from Hawaii broke racial barriers and was the second longest serving Senator in U.S. history.

The Associated Press

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In this Friday, July 9, 2010 file photo, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, is seen at the ceremony welcoming F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham in Honolulu. Inouye has died of respiratory complications, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, according to Inouye's office. He was 88. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

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In this May 19, 1973 file photo, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, a member of the Watergate investigating committee, questions witness James McCord during the hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, as John M. Montoya, Democrat of New Mexico, is at right. Inouye, the influential Democrat who broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill and played key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, died of respiratory complications, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, according to his office. He was 88. (AP Photo/File)

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He spent the next 20 months in military hospitals. During his convalescence, Inouye met Bob Dole, the future majority leader of the Senate and 1996 Republican presidential candidate, who also was recovering from severe war injuries. The two later served together in the Senate for decades.

"With Sen. Inouye, what you saw is what you got and what you got was just a wonderful human being that served his country after the ill-treatment of the Japanese, lost an arm in the process," Dole said Monday. "He was the best bridge player on our floor. He did it all with one arm."

Despite his military service and honors, Inouye returned to an often-hostile America. On his way home from the war, he often recounted, he entered a San Francisco barbershop only to be told, "We don't cut Jap hair."

He returned to Hawaii and received a bachelor's degree in government and economics from the University of Hawaii in 1950. He graduated from George Washington University's law school in 1952.

Inouye proposed to Margaret Shinobu Awamura on their second date, and they married in 1949. Their only child, Daniel Jr., was born in 1964. When his wife died in 2006, Inouye said, "It was a most special blessing to have had Maggie in my life for 58 years."

He remarried in 2008, to Irene Hirano, a Los Angeles community leader. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, with whom Inouye forged a remarkable friendship and alliance, served as Inouye's best man.

Inouye shunned the trappings of Washington's elite, leaving the telephone number of his Bethesda, Md., home in the phone book.

He took pride in handling even the smallest requests from his constituents.

He said he once was awakened at 2 a.m. by a telephone call from a Hawaii family asking for help in getting a soldier home for a family emergency. Inouye said he immediately called the Pentagon, and 30 minutes later the soldier had his orders to return home.

"That's a special type of satisfaction that I can enjoy that none of you can," he said.

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Additional Photos

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In this Monday, Sept. 19, 2011 file photo, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, president pro temper of the Senate, and a recipient of the Medal of Honor, attends a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, where he is presented a commemorative coin marking the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Medal of Honor by Congress. Inouye has died of respiratory complications, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. He was 88. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

  


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