How many 1 armed Japanese Congressmen did you know?
A World War II
veteran who served in Italy and Germany (being of Japanese descent he was in the all Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team, who weren't allowed in the Pacific to avoid the possibility of co-ordination with the enemy.) He lost an arm from a grenade while machine-gunning down Nazi soldiers.
He returned home and with help from the GI bill to become a lawyer, his dream of being a surgeon gone with his arm. After becoming a lawyer he returned to Hawaii and became her first Representative-At-Large for 3 years, eventually winning the Senate seat in 1962, and holding it until his death in 2012.
He was keynote speaker at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and later part of the Senate Watergate Committee, and has been part of many Senate Committees, serving as the Chairman for Appropriations, Indian Affairs, and Defense on many different occasions. After a few failed bids for Senate Majority Leader, he was given the title of President of the Senate Pro Tempore in 2010 (mostly ceremonial title reserved for the most senior members of a party), making him third in the Presidential Line of Succession after the Vice-President
and the Speaker of the House.
He tragically passed away on December 17, 2012 at 88 years old, and was saluted by the entire Senate body. Reportedly, his last word was "Aloha."
Has a Badass of the Week post here.
Tropes relating to the President Pro Tempore
- Badass: He was a Japanese-American who kept petitioning the government to serve his country: he did. He went to Germany and lost his arm to a grenade, and resorted to pining himself against a tree to machine gun Nazi soldiers with one arm! After he woke up at the hospital, he couldn't believe his comrades when they told him. His Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to a Medal of Honor by Bill Clinton in 2000, along with 19 other members who where denied due to their race.
- Cool Old Guy: He inspired his son Ken to join the Hardcore Punk band Marginal Man. He even waited in line with skinheads, dreds, and other kinds of people that are avoided just to see his kid play, and was allegedly genuinely embraced by the patrons.
- Final Words: "Aloha".
- Long Runners: One of the most prime examples: He is the second longest serving Senator EVER. If he had lived 2 more years, he would be the longest serving, surpassing Robert Byrd.
- Odd Friendship: With Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska. On paper, they are polar opposites. One is a Republican from a frozen tundra, the other a Democrat from a tropical paradise. They both admitted to disagreeing politically most of the time, too. However, over forty years, they became best friends, considering each other brothers. After Stevens' untimely death in 2010, Inouye gave a heartfelt eulogy to Stevens, and even advocated naming a battleship after his fallen friend only months before his own death in 2012.
- Young Future Famous People: After his amputation, he went to recover at the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he met fellow soldiers Bob Dole and Phil Hart. Dole even mentioning he wanted to go to Congress, being beaten to it by both men by a few years each. They went on to be lifelong friends, and the hospital was renamed the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in 2003 to honor the 3 Senators.note