Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, a World War II hero and the second-longest serving Senator in American history, passed away Monday night at the age of 88.
Inouye, a Democrat who was first elected to the Senate in 1962, died of respiratory complications at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
"Tonight, our country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
"In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve," Obama added.
"But it was his incredible bravery during World War II - including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor - that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him."
Inouye enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, serving in a unit consisting entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry.
He lost his right arm charging a series of machine gun nests on a hill in San Terenzo, Italy, and later earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.
After receiving his law degree and serving as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu, Inouye was elected Hawaii's first Congressman in 1959, becoming the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress.
Inouye was subsequently elected to the Senate in 1962 and served for nearly nine consecutive terms. Inouye's 49 years in the Senate put him just behind the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who served in the Senate for 51 years.
He is survived by his wife, Irene Hirano Inouye, his son Daniel Ken Inouye Jr., his daughter-in-law Jessica, and granddaughter Maggie and step-daughter Jennifer Hirano. Inouye's first wife Maggie Awamura died in 2006.
According to a statement from his office, "When asked in recent days how he wanted to be remembered, Dan said, very simply, 'I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK.'"
With Inouye's passing, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie will choose a replacement from a list of three candidates selected by the state Democratic Party.
Inouye reportedly sent a letter to Abercrombie urging him to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, as his successor.
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont will replace Inouye as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the third in the line of succession to the presidency.
by RTT Staff Writer
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