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Sen. Daniel Inouye, who passed away yesterday, was not just a war veteran. He was a war hero.
The late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who passed away on Monday, was a decorated war veteran.
"I behaved like Rambo, I think," Inouye said self-deprecatingly in an interview two years ago, while describing his ordeal during the war. "Looking back, I thought I was crazy."
The 88-year-old Democratic senator from Hawaii fought in World War II and was a Medal of Honor recipient.
Inouye was born in Honolulu in 1924, and was 17 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. PBS noted that when the US officially entered WWII, the 5,000 Japanese-Americans in the military were discharged and those who were of draft age (like second generation or "nisei" Inouye) were considered "enemy aliens."
Inouye enlisted in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was made up entirely of American volunteers of Japanese ancestry, and served four years in the US army, fighting in France and Italy.
"I felt that there was a need for us to demonstrate that we’re just as good as anybody else," Inouye once said, according to Time. "The price was bloody and expensive, but I felt we succeeded."
Presidential historian Richard Norton told PBS, "The fact of the matter is he distinguished himself on behalf of a country that had not always accepted him."
The act of bravery that won Inouye the Medal of Honor also cost him his arm. As he described in the video, Inouye was shot by a sniper in his gut.
"The pain was nothing great, and I had my job, my obligation and my mission to accomplish," he said, after describing his wounds matter-of-factly. A German soldier fired a grenade at Inouye, hitting his elbow.
Inouye, who held a armed grenade in his (now injured) hand at that moment, peeled the grenade from his dangling arm and threw it at the enemy. "My aim was good, fortunately," he said.
Forbes wrote, "He was carried off unconscious, but awoke briefly to see some of his men checking on him, at which point he ordered them back to their positions, telling them, 'Nobody called off the war!'"
More on GlobalPost: Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye dies at age 88 after 50 years in Senate
Watch him tell his story: