Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Daniel Inouye

     Daniel Inouye was an authentic American hero.  Of Japanese descent, he was one of many who volunteered for the  All-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II.  In those days, the Army was segregated, so the 442nd was made of persons of Japanese descent and sent to the European Theater, where it was thought there would be less risk of them changing sides.  Inouye and others in the 442nd were determined to prove that they were loyal Americans, and that unit become the most decorated for bravery of all units in the United States Army.  

      You want to read about a tough guy?  Here is his Medal of Honor Citation:

      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.
      They say that his arm was injured while he was holding a live grenade, and he pried out his fingers with his left hand and threw the grenade, taking out a Nazi machine gun.

     Jiminy Christmas, I can't imagine somebody continuing to charge enemy positions with his arm blown off, but he did that.  Eventually he passed out from loss of blood after securing the objective, and he woke up to find his troops huddled around him.  So he yelled at them to get back to work. "Nobody called off the war!"

    Now that is one tough dude, and why foreign countries should not want to mess with Americans in wars.  

    Guys like him inspired me to join the military and in a very small way follow in his footsteps.  Maybe that's why the older generations of Democrats and Republicans, like Kennedy and Nixon, were able to get along relatively well.  After you've fought alongside someone, you learn to respect them even if they are from a different political party.

     Nowadays, however, America seems determined to elect politicians who thought they were too important to serve our country in the military.  They tend to be great talkers, but spoiled and used to getting everything they want,  and for that reason they can't get along with each other. 
     I remember seeing Inouye in the Watergate panel during the Nixon Administration.  He was asking tough questions, but generally very fair ones, without mugging for TV time like the other contestants, I mean members of the panel.  

    All his life, Senator Inouye fought for the equality of all Americans.  I continued to be inspired by his vision.   

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