U.S. Navy commissions $1.5 billion missile destroyer named after Hawaii senator, WWII veteran Daniel Inouye

USS Daniel Inouye

The U.S. Navy has commissioned an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer named after U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, a long-serving senator of Hawaii and a World War II veteran.

What happened: The USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), built by General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works, was commissioned at a ceremony held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

  • The ceremony coincided with the 80th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Commemoration events held on Tuesday.
  • The late Senator Daniel Inouye spent his entire life in public service, both in uniform and out,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said during his keynote address at the ceremony. “Senator Inouye’s life is one to be emulated and the crew of this warship will not only be inspired by his legacy, but will stand the watch with the honor and dignity deserving of a ship bearing his name.”
  • Measured at almost 510 feet long, the USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) comes with the Aegis Baseline 9, which “provides improved Integrated Air and Missile Defense capabilities, increased computing power, and radar capable of quickly detecting and reacting to modern air warfare and Ballistic Missile Defense threats,” the DOD explained.
  • The DDG118 is manned by a crew of 329 officers and enlisted sailors with Cmdr. DonAnn Gilmore of Anniston, Alabama, as the commanding officer. The destroyer cost around $1.5 billion to construct, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
  • Through USS Daniel Inouye’s service to our nation, every Sailor aboard will strive to make ours the preeminent ship on the waterfront,” Gilmore said. “We embody the ship’s motto, a battle cry adopted from Senator Inouye’s Army unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. We will ‘Go For Broke!’ as Daniel Inouye did on the battlefield and in halls of the Senate.”
  • Irene Hirano Inouye, Sen. Inouye’s wife, welded her initials into the destroyer’s keel in 2018 and broke a bottle of champagne during the christening ceremony on June 22, 2019. She also put some of the late senator’s cherished possessions in the ship’s mast at its “mast stepping” ceremony.
  • Before her death at the age of 71 on April 7, 2020, she appointed Jessica Inouye, the wife of Ken, Sen. Inouye’s only son, and Jennifer Sabas, the late senator’s former chief of staff and current executive director of the Daniel Inouye Institute, as matrons of honor. Maggie Inouye, the senator’s granddaughter, was named maid of honor and gave the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life” on behalf of Sen. Inouye’s wife, who was the ship’s sponsor.

About Daniel Inouye: Born in Honolulu on Sept. 7, 1924, Inouye was working for the Red Cross with the goal of becoming a surgeon when World War II broke out during his senior year of high school, according to his U.S. House of Representative bio. He provided aid to those injured during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

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  • The U.S. government denied Inouye from enlisting at the age of 18 and deemed him unfit for service due to him being classified as a nisei, a term used for “American-born children of Japanese immigrants.” He successfully joined the Army in 1943 as a private and was placed in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which mainly consisted of Japanese American soldiers.
  • After President Roosevelt made the decision to allow Japanese Americans to volunteer, he and thousands of others volunteered for that service and to go into harm’s way because they believed in America when America did not believe in them, and for that they were willing to fight in order to fight,” Ken Inouye said on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
  • The 442nd RCT became famous for their mission in France’s Vosges Mountains to rescue the “Lost Battalion” of Texans trapped behind enemy lines, according to Densho Encyclopedia. Inouye and his team reportedly fought nearly nonstop for six days before reaching the Texan soldiers on Oct. 30, 1944. Although they successfully rescued 211 men, the 422nd RCT faced hundreds of casualties from the skirmish.
  • Inouye lost his right arm from an exploding grenade during a mission in Italy, an incident that would prevent him from fulfilling his dream of becoming a surgeon. He reportedly took 20 months to recover before being honorably discharged from a U.S. Army hospital.  On May 27, 1947, he retired as a captain.
  • Inouye received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1950 from the University of Hawaii, according to his university bio. He then earned his Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University in 1953.
  • On June 12, 1949, Inouye married Margaret Shinobu Awamura, and in 1964, they had Ken, their first and only son. Margaret died away in 2006. Inouye then married Irene Hirano, president of the U.S.–Japan Council, on May 24, 2008.
  • Inouye became the first Japanese American Member of Congress after being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives during Hawaii’s statehood on Aug. 21, 1959. He then ran for U.S. Senate in 1962 and served as a senator until he died in 2012.
  • For his military service, he received the Distinguished Silver Cross, Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart and 12 other awards. Additionally, former President Barack Obama awarded Inouye the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a posthumous ceremony on Nov. 20, 2013.

Featured Image via Robert Huffstutter (CC BY 2.0) (left), Official U.S. Navy Page (CC BY 2.0) (right)

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