U.S. 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.
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."
"Senator Inouye was a passionate advocate for the people of Hawaii, and he was tireless in his quest to advance the causes he believed in," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "Among those causes was funding for the 9/11 Memorial. When I showed him the Memorial plaza last year, he said he was reminded of Pearl Harbor - an event that inspired him to serve our country in the military. I always deeply appreciated his support, and he deserves the gratitude of all Americans for his decades of public service."