WWII veterans honor Daniel Inouye at Hawaii service

442d Regimental Combat Team veterans attended a service for the late Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii Sunday.
Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff
442d Regimental Combat Team veterans attended a service for the late Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii Sunday.

HONOLULU — Senator Daniel Inouye was remembered Sunday as an American hero whose legacy as a war veteran and longtime Democratic senator would be felt across Hawaii for years to come.

The memorial service at Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was attended by more than 1,000 people, including President Obama; the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid; Hawaii’s congressional delegation; and a number of other senators, cabinet secretaries, and other dignitaries.

‘‘Daniel was the best senator among us all,’’ Reid told those assembled. ‘‘Whenever we needed a noble man to lean on, we turned to Senator Dan Inouye. He was fearless.’’


The cemetery is the final resting place to thousands of World War II veterans. More than 400 members of the storied Japanese-American 442d Regimental Combat Team — of which Inouye was a part — are buried at the site.

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Several 442d veterans attended the Sunday morning service, the latest in a number of tributes and honors for Inouye following the 88-year-old’s Dec. 17 death from respiratory complications.

A 19-gun cannon salute was fired as Inouye’s coffin arrived at the cemetery. The service also included a flyover by F-22 military jets and the playing of taps by Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

Inouye’s widow, Irene, who was seated with the president and Michelle Obama in the front row, dabbed her eyes as a pipes-and-drums band played ‘‘Danny Boy.’’

Inouye was the first Japanese-American elected to both houses of Congress and the second-longest serving senator in US history.


He was a high school senior in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941, when he watched dozens of Japanese planes fly toward Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases to begin a bombing that changed the course of world events.

He volunteered for a special US Army unit of Japanese-Americans and lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy. That ended his dream of becoming a surgeon and he went to law school and into politics instead.

‘‘He was a shining star of the greatest generation,’’ fellow Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka said at the service.

Akaka also highlighted Inouye’s role in steering federal money to build roads, schools, and housing in Hawaii over the decades, from the beginning of statehood.

Associated Press