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Daniel Inouye Was A Badass

The U.S. Senator from Hawaii died today at 88. In the clip above, he recalls what he did in the heat of battle against the Nazis, a feat of insane courage that won him the Medal of Honor. Here’s what the Medal of Honor citation said:

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.

What it doesn’t say, but he tells in the clip above, is that he reached down to pry a live grenade out of his right hand, dangling at the end of his destroyed arm, and tossed it into the Nazi machine gun nest.

That was a man. RIP.

22 Comments (Open | Close)

22 Comments To "Daniel Inouye Was A Badass"

#1 Comment By Noah172 On December 18, 2012 @ 12:30 am

Inouye and his fellow Hawaiian Daniel Akaka were the last veterans of World War II in the Senate. With this death and the expiration of Akaka’s term in two weeks, there will be none, nearly seventy years since the end of that war.

Inouye was a genuine war hero, as George HW Bush, Robert Dole, John McCain, Robert Kerrey, and John Glenn, among others, are, and as George McGovern (who also died recently) was, among others.

Yet many of these war-hero political leaders have over the decades pursued policies that have been devastating to the Republic for which they fought and sacrificed so bravely. The “Greatest Generation” (a term I dislike) gave us Vietnam, open borders, free trade, Middle East machinations creating the blowback of terrorism and revolutions, affirmative action, abortion on demand, the first few trillion or so of our ballooning debt, and much else in the way of preventable evils. Vietnam hero John McCain is an indefatigable and reflexive proponent of nation-destroying globalism in foreign affairs, trade, and immigration. McGovern, heroic in World War II and in his opposition to the Vietnam debacle, was sadly in favor of the wicked and foolish scheme of forced bussing for school integration — just not for his own kids, who attended lily-white suburban schools.

What comes to my mind is the biblical David, heroic as both a lowly shepherd boy with a slingshot and a warrior leader in battle, yet disgracing himself and his throne with Uriah and Bathsheba, thus planting the seed of rebellion in his son Absalom which then tore the kingdom asunder. Also I think of Petain, the hero of Verdun and the villain of Vichy.

It is all so very tragic.

#2 Comment By Karl Sandfort On December 18, 2012 @ 4:10 am

No wonder this guy wasn’t scared of Nixon. Rest in peace, soldier.

#3 Comment By John E_o On December 18, 2012 @ 7:51 am

Ollie North wasn’t fit to shine the Senator’s shoes.

#4 Comment By M_Young On December 18, 2012 @ 8:55 am

I don’t know why it is necessary to denigrate one military man on a post praising another’s heroism.

#5 Comment By Tom S On December 18, 2012 @ 9:04 am

He wasn’t actually awarded the Medal of Honor until 2000. We know why….

#6 Comment By Amarus Cameron On December 18, 2012 @ 9:40 am


I have been grasping at how such things could happen. These men were hero’s, saviors of the republic, what type of influence could so change these men who at no urging would literally throw themselves before their men to save them.

Is the DC bug so invasive, so intractable that it causes all realistic reason to flea from us?

Or had these men seen such unimaginable evil that they wished to make sure it never surfaced again?

I think that most of our policies that have had detrimental effects were that of our hero’s trying to insulate us from another such event (be it societal or having to do with foreign policy.) The equivalent of a parent sheltering a child and ill preparing them for the world. Well our parents are leaving us, and now the children have to fend for ourselves. We love and respect our parents but we wish they would have set us up for more independent success now that they have passed.

Regardless of his political record, Daniel Inouye was a hero, and I respect his sacrifice and the sacrifice of those like him.

#7 Comment By Amarus Cameron On December 18, 2012 @ 9:41 am

Please excuse my typos above

#8 Comment By SusanKG On December 18, 2012 @ 9:59 am

And while he was doing these acts of unbelievable bravery, many of his fellow Japanese-Americans were in internment camps. To me, that makes him doubly heroic. He knew the country he fought for was imperfect, but he believed in its capacity for freedom and integrity, and fought anyway. May he rest in peace.

#9 Comment By JohnE_o On December 18, 2012 @ 10:22 am

I don’t know why it is necessary to denigrate one military man on a post praising another’s heroism.

It is an interesting exercise in ‘compare and contrast’.

Like ‘race realism’ except between two specific people.

#10 Comment By M_Young On December 18, 2012 @ 10:56 am

“It is an interesting exercise in ‘compare and contrast’.

Like ‘race realism’ except between two specific people.”

But you didn’t ‘compare and contrast’ — you only denigrated North.

I have no idea how North behaved in Vietnam. He obviously wasn’t shot up like Inouye, but he too was an infantry platoon leader. With all the criticism he has faced (whether deserved or not) I suspect his enemies would have found out and publicized even the slightest blemish on his combat record. I can only conclude that it was excellent, if not as heroic as North’s.

#11 Comment By M_Young On December 18, 2012 @ 10:56 am

” not as heroic as North’s.”

If not as heroic as Inouye’s.

#12 Comment By M_Young On December 18, 2012 @ 11:06 am

Since I’m being a scold…

Noah, I’m on your side of the fence on most things, but I think there are some occasions (and posts) that we don’t have to politicize.

Then again, we’ve already popped the cherry — so I’ll give a shout out to my inner anti-imperialist. [1]

#13 Comment By J On December 18, 2012 @ 11:13 am

Let it be pointed out that the event occurred on April 21, 1945 when all German fronts were in collapse, Allied armies were pouring into Germany from two directions to minor remaining resistance. Average German soldiers were frankly merely intent on staying alive until surrender at that point. Germany officially surrendered on May 3.

Truth is if Inouye had done nothing that day the war would have ended on the same day to the same result. Except that 25+ more people would likely still be alive and he’d still have had two arms. And perhaps would have become a surgeon rather than a politician.

There are reasons people return from war and never talk about it.

#14 Comment By DS On December 18, 2012 @ 11:51 am

I recall another Inouye story, and I don’t think it’s the one that got him the CMH.

His company, Japanese-Americans who were only allowed to fight in Europe, received word that FDR had died. This probably would have been about a week before the incident described above. Out of respect for FDR, they spontaneously decided to take a hill they had been previously unable to capture.

And they did, screaming “do it for the chief.” I have no idea if it had any tactical or strategic significance, but they took the hill and held it, purely to honor the chief.

#15 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 18, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

I have no beef with Colonel North’s service during the Vietnam War, which was by all accounts honorable (Bronze and Silver Stars, and two Purple Hearts).

I have plenty of beef with his extra-legal shenanigans at the NSC during the Reagan years. Nothing about Iran-Contra was honorable.

#16 Comment By Joe On December 18, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

It might also be noted that given the age of the state, he essentially owned his Senate seat. After Hawaii statehood in 1959, Oren Long held the seat for 3 years Sen. Inouye has held the seat since.

I currently reside in Hawaii and have felt a little conflicted about whether it is really in the best interest of the state to keep re-electing the same people over and over again. Certainly his seniority helped bring a lot of money to the state, but with Sen. Akaka’s recent retirement, it leaves the state with inexperienced representation in the Senate.

I will say that I met Sen. Inouye a number of times and could see why you would want to re-elect him. As you might expect, he was possessed of great gravitas and seemed to far transcend the political bickering of the Senate.

#17 Comment By Dan Berger On December 18, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

My guess is that those denigrating Col. North remember Senator Inouye’s masterful dressing-down of Oliver North. I have never had the privilege to witness a more thorough tongue-lashing, delivered with great artistry, without profanity and without the Senator ever raising his voice above a normal conversational tone.

#18 Comment By Gus On December 18, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

Here’s how much of a badass Senator Inouye was: [2]

#19 Comment By M_Young On December 18, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

I don’t remember that… but [3] seems to indicate the Senator was less than original in his criticisms. Of course, this is pre-Godwin’s law.

“Finally, Co-Chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), a World War II hero, wrapped up the six days with a memorable speech. Inouye reminded North about cadet honor, declaring, “Members of the military have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders.” Inouye made reference to the Nuremberg Trials, which set off Sullivan, who interrupted the co-chairman to say that his closing statement was “personally and professionally distasteful.”

#20 Comment By lanimilbus On December 18, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

-noah, Frank Lautenberg is the last World War II veteran in the Senate; Ralph Hall and John Dingell in the House

#21 Comment By Noah172 On December 18, 2012 @ 11:35 pm

Thanks for the correction re: WW2 veterans in Congress.

#22 Comment By John On February 23, 2017 @ 8:42 pm

German forces surrendered in Italy on April 29, and total and unconditional surrender was signed on May 7, 1945.