Daniel Ken Inouye ( ee-NOH-ay; September 7, 1924 – December 17, 2012) served as a United States Senator from Hawaii from 1963 until his death in 2012. A member of the Democratic Party, he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate (third in the presidential line of succession) from 2010 until his death, making him the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in US history. Inouye also chaired various Senate Committees, including those on Intelligence, Commerce and Appropriations.
Inouye fought in World War II as part of the 442nd Infantry Regiment. He lost his right arm to a grenade wound and received several military decorations, including the Medal of Honor (the nation’s highest military award). Returning to Hawaii, Inouye earned a law degree, was elected to Hawaii’s territorial House of Representatives in 1953, and was elected to the territorial Senate in 1957. When Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959, Inouye was elected as its first member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962.
Inouye never lost an election in 58 years as an elected official, and he exercised an exceptionally large influence on Hawaii politics.
Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. Senate. Because of his seniority, Inouye became President pro tempore of the Senate following the death of Sen. Robert Byrd on June 29, 2010, making him third in the presidential line of succession after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. At the time of his death, Inouye was the most senior sitting US senator, the second-oldest sitting US senator (seven and one-half months younger than Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey), and the last sitting US senator to have served during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.
Inouye was a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among other public structures, Honolulu International Airport has since been renamed Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in his honor.