December 17, 2012 / 10:58 PM / in 5 years

Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii dead at 88

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a decorated veteran of World War Two and one of the longest-serving members of Congress, died on Monday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He was 88.

Inouye, who was chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, died of complications from a respiratory illness, according to a statement issued by his office, which said “Aloha” was the last word he spoke.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Inouye’s death on the floor of the Senate.

U.S. Senator for Hawaii Daniel Inouye attends a reception hosted by the U.S.-Japan Council and APEC Host Committee in Honolulu, Hawaii in this November 11, 2011, file photo. Inouye, a World War II hero, pioneer for the state of Hawaii and the second longest serving senator in American history, died at the Walter Reed Medical Center after fighting emphysema and respiratory complications, December 17, 2012. He was 88. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/Files

First elected to the Senate in 1962, three years after Hawaii became a state, Inouye was the most senior senator at the time of his death and the second-longest serving in that chamber after the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Inouye began his public service at the age of 17, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

He went on to serve in Europe with E company of the 442 Regimental Combat Team, a group consisting entirely of U.S. soldiers of Japanese ancestry, and lost his right arm while charging a series of enemy machine-gun nests on a hill in Italy in April 1945.

When asked in recent days how he wanted to be remembered, according to his office’s press statement, Inouye replied, “I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK.”

Reporting By Kim Dixon and David Lawder; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Eric Walsh, Cynthia Johnston, Gary Hill

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