Daniel Inouye, longest serving senator and president pro tempore of the United States Senate, died today from respiratory complications at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...55f_story.html)
Inouye came to Washington as a U.S. Representative in 1959, taking office the day Hawaii became a state. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1963.
Inouye was a WWII vet who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while leading an assault on a German position in Italy in 1945. Here's a brief summary:
On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Tuscany, Italy called Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint along the strip of German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, which represented the last and most dogged line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach; ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his Thompson submachine gun.
After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss. As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively "clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore". Inouye's horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, "nobody called off the war!"
The remainder of Inouye's mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Inouye)
Some folks might not have liked his party affiliation; he was, after all, a life-long Democrat. But he was one tough SOB.