Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate in honor of Senator Daniel Inouye:
“I rise with great joy to honor my friend and colleague, Senator Daniel Inouye, on the occasion of his milestone 15,000th roll call vote. Senator Inouye was born to Japanese-American immigrants in Honolulu, the eldest of four children. On the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, with chaos reigning, when he was just seventeen years old, Senator Inouye volunteered to provide medical help to the injured.
After high school, Senator Inouye began his studies toward becoming a doctor. At the time, the U.S Army banned Japanese-Americans from being soldiers. But once this ban was dropped, Senator Inouye immediately put his medical ambitions aside and signed up to serve his country.
“Perhaps it was fate that Senator Inouye joined the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which, no small part thanks to his bravery became the most highly-decorated unit in the history of the United States Army. I could not improve upon the words of praise this brave man earned upon receiving the Medal of Honor for his courageous service – so I will read the citation he was given:
‘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.’
“While recovering from his injuries at a military hospital, Senator Inouye met another courageous wounded warrior: a man from Kansas named Bob Dole. Bob told Senator Inouye of his plans to run for Congress. Senator Inouye beat him there by a few years. That chance encounter began a lifetime friendship that took these two men from hospital beds in Battle Creek, Michigan, to seats in the United States Senate. The friendship and close working relationship they have shared is emblematic of Senator Inouye’s life-long commitment to bipartisanship in pursuit of progress.
“In his forty-five years of service, Senator Inouye has been a leader on issue after issue of concern to the American people. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations, he is a leading expert and a leading national advocate for national security, strengthening the military, and honoring our troops and veterans.
“As the first person of Japanese descent to serve in the United States Senate, Senator Inouye is a soft-spoken trailblazer. On a personal level, he is also one of the finest men I have had the privilege to know. His heroism and extraordinary lifetime of public service are an inspiration to us all.”