The death of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii brought many accolades, particularly from his Senate colleagues who knew and liked the man who was the second-longest-serving senator.
But the hero of World War II is also being remembered.
His life is another great lesson in the incredible bravery and fortitude displayed by the men in the front lines. David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo posted on his editor’s blog the citation for the Medal of Honor awarded to 2nd Lt. Inouye for his unit’s successful attack against German positions in Italy in 1945.
“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.”
During a lifetime in politics, Inouye achieved many things. He was the last man in Congress, for example, who had been representing his home ever since statehood.
But it’s good to remember that he and many other soldiers of Japanese heritage fought bravely in Italy, all too often a forgotten front in the war. Many doubtless did not get recognized, as did Inouye, for his “extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty.”
But we hope such contributions are remembered and appreciated.