Daniel Inouye Biography

(Former United States Senator from Hawaii (1963 - 2012))

Birthday: September 7, 1924 (Virgo)

Born In: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

Daniel Inouye was an American army veteran and senator. He was one of the few persons to be decorated with both the ‘Medal of Honor’ and the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom,’ two of the highest honors awarded by the U.S.A. After his distinguished service in World War II, he became one of the longest-serving senators of the U.S.A. While serving the ‘442nd Regiment,’ he was recognized for his courageous acts and quickly rose through the ranks. Due to his bravery, he came close to dying in a battle and lost his right arm. After he was honorably discharged, he learned political science and law and joined politics. From 2010 until he died in 2012, he became the “President pro tempore of the United States Senate,” the third in the line of succession to the presidential position. He was also the highest-ranking Asian–American politician in history.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Daniel Ken Inouye

Died At Age: 88


Spouse/Ex-: Irene Hirano (m. 2008), Maggie Shinobu Awamura (m. 1949)

father: Hyotaro Inouye

mother: Kame Imanaga

Born Country: United States

Political Leaders Film & Theater Personalities

Died on: December 17, 2012

place of death: Bethesda, Maryland, United States

Cause of Death: Respiratory Complications

Ancestry: Japanese American

U.S. State: Hawaii

City: Honolulu, Hawaii

Notable Alumni: University Of Hawaii--Manoa

More Facts

education: George Washington University, University Of Hawaii--Manoa

Childhood, Early Life, & Education

Daniel Ken Inouye was born on September 7, 1924, to Kame Inouye (nee Imanaga) and Hyotaro in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii.

He was an American “Nisei,” as his father had immigrated to the U.S. from Japan and his mother was a daughter of Japanese immigrant parents.

He was raised in Bingham Tract, Honolulu. He attended the ‘President William McKinley High School.’

In high school, Daniel Inouye had volunteered with the ‘Red Cross Aid Station.’ In 1941, when the ‘Pearl Harbor’ was attacked, he was among the first to treat the wounded.

Daniel Inouye had joined the ‘University of Hawaii,’ where he attended a course in pre-medical studies. However, he later quit his studies, as he joined the ‘U.S. Army’ to fight in World War II.

Continue Reading Below
Military Service

In 1943, as World War II progressed, the U.S. government lifted the ban on the recruitment of the “Nisei” into the ‘U.S. Army.’ Daniel Inouye dropped out of the course to join the all-“Nisei” ‘442nd Regimental Combat Team.’

He excelled during the basic training, and within a year, he was promoted to the position of sergeant and led his platoon.

In 1944, after his men were put to task in the ‘Rome-Arno Campaign,’ they moved to the Vosges Mountains of France. They spent a couple of weeks fighting to free the ‘1st Battalion’ of the ‘141st Infantry Regiment’ of the ‘U.S. Army,’ also known as the ‘Lost Battalion,’ which was besieged by the ‘German Army’ in the mountains.

His bravery in the mountains earned him the ‘Bronze Star’ and a battlefield commission. He became the youngest officer in the regiment to be made a second lieutenant. He was 20 by then.

On April 21, 1945, Daniel Inouye courageously fought off the enemy soldiers, facing three firing machine guns. In the ensuing battle, his right arm was almost severed due to a grenade explosion. However, he overcame the enemies before being shot on his legs and losing consciousness. He almost died, but the surgeons saved his life at the cost of his right hand. In recognition of his brave action, he was honored with the ‘Distinguished Service Cross.’

After the war, Daniel Inouye was treated in various U.S. military hospitals for around 20 months. On May 27, 1947, he was honorably discharged as a captain. By then, he had won 12 medals and citations and two ‘Purple Hearts.’ Due to the prevailing discrimination against Asian–Americans, he, along with many from his regiment, was deprived of the ‘Medal of Honor.’


As Daniel Inouye had lost his hand in the war, he could not resume his medical course. Instead, he secured a BA degree in political science from the ‘University of Hawaii’ in 1950, under the provision of the ‘G.I. Bill.’

Three years later, he received the Doctor of Jurisprudence from the ‘George Washington University Law School.’ He was inducted into the ‘Phi Delta Phi’ legal fraternity in Washington, D.C.

Highlights of Post-War Life & Career

After attaining his degree in law in 1953, Daniel Inouye returned to Honolulu to practice and started serving as a public prosecutor. By then, he was already a member of the ‘Democratic Party.’

Continue Reading Below

He was elected to the ‘Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives’ in 1953 and became the majority leader soon after. After serving two terms, he was elected to the Hawaii territorial senate in 1957.

During his tenure in the territorial senate, Hawaii was made a state. On August 21, 1959, when Hawaii officially became a state, Daniel Inouye was elected to the ‘U.S. House of Representatives,’ as Hawaii’s first full member. In 1960, he was re-elected for a full term.

He was elected to the ‘U.S. Senate’ from Hawaii in 1962 and served until his last day.

During his tenure in the senate, he rose to national prominence while serving the ‘Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities’ (better known as the ‘Watergate Committee,’ 1973–1974).

In 1976, he was the first to lead the newly created ‘Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.’

He was appointed as the chairman of the ‘Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition,’ which investigated the ‘Iran-Contra Affair’ in 1987.

Between 1987 and 2003 (2005, according to ‘Britannica’), he chaired the ‘Select Committee on Indian Affairs.’

He was a member of the ‘Gang of 14’ that successfully negotiated an agreement in the spring of 2005, to prevent the use of the “nuclear option” by the ‘Republicans’ in the senate, over a planned use of the filibuster by the senate ‘Democrats.’

In January 2009, he was made the chairman of the ‘Senate Appropriations Committee.’

Continue Reading Below

The following year, he became the “President pro tempore of the Senate” and stayed in this role until his death.

Personal Life, Family, & Death

Daniel married Margaret “Maggie” Shinobu Awamura on June 12, 1949. Maggie worked as an instructor at the ‘University of Hawaii.’ Their son, Kenny, was born in 1964.

On March 13, 2006, Maggie succumbed to cancer.

He married Irene Hirano on May 24, 2008, in Beverly Hills, California. She was reportedly 24 years younger to him.

At the time of the marriage, Irene served as the founding CEO of the ‘Japanese American National Museum’ in Los Angeles, California. She later resigned from this post to stay closer to Daniel. In 2009, she became the founding president of the ‘U.S.–Japan Council.’ She was voted to the chair of the U.S.A.’s second-largest non-profit organization, ‘The Ford Foundation.’

He suffered from breathing difficulties on December 6, 2012, and was admitted to ‘The George Washington University Hospital.’ Four days later, he was moved to the ‘Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.’ He died due to respiratory complications on December 17, 2012.

On December 20, 2012, his body lay in state at the ‘United States Capitol Rotunda.’ The first funeral service was held the following day, at the ‘Washington National Cathedral,’ and dignitaries such as the then-president, Barack Obama, and former president Bill Clinton spoke at the event.

His body was flown to Hawaii and lay in state at the ‘Hawaii State Capitol’ on December 22, 2012. The following day, a second funeral service was held at the ‘National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.’

Honors & Legacy

Daniel received numerous awards throughout his life. His ‘Distinguished Service Cross’ was upgraded to the ‘Medal of Honor’ in 2000 and was conferred by Bill Clinton. He was awarded the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ by Barack Obama in 2013.

He also received honors from other countries, such as the Philippines, Japan, and France.

Several organizations, such as the ‘U.S. Army,’ the ‘U.S. Navy,’ ‘The University of Hawaii,’ have named monuments in his honor and dedicated their machinery and equipment to him.

See the events in life of Daniel Inouye in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Daniel Inouye Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com

People Also Viewed

Sydney Sweeney Biography
Sydney Sweeney
Donald Trump Biography
Donald Trump
Emma Stone Biography
Emma Stone
Timothée Chalamet Biography
Timothée Chalamet
Anne Hathaway Biography
Anne Hathaway
Drake Bell Biography
Drake Bell
Joe Biden Biography
Joe Biden