The WWII hero lost his right arm in battle and later became a high-powered politician

By People Staff
Updated December 17, 2012 06:45 PM
Credit: Lucy Pemoni/AP

Daniel Inouye, Hawaii’s nine-term Democratic Senator and the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in American history, died Monday at age 88 of respiratory complications.

His office said the Honolulu native’s last word was “Aloha.”

A second-generation “Nisei” born in 1924, Inouye was a World War II hero who lost most of his right arm to a German grenade in Italy but continued firing his gun with his good arm. He later received the Medal of Honor.

A lawyer, he became the first Japanese-American elected to the House in 1959, the same year Hawaii became a state. Three years later, he was elected to the Senate, eventually becoming the second longest serving member after West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who died in 2010.

He gave the keynote address at the contentious 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, served on the Senate Watergate Committee, whose hearings led to President Nixon’s downfall, and chaired the committee investigating the Iran-Contra Affair during the Reagan Administration.