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American Forces Press Service

Panetta, Dempsey Mourn Hawaii Senator

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2012 – The Defense Department's top civilian and military officials issued statements paying tribute to U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, who died at age 88 yesterday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the senator's life "embodied the essence of the American Dream and the heroism of the greatest generation."

'A World War II veteran of the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, his display of leadership and valor in a gun battle that cost him his arm rightfully earned him the Medal of Honor," Panetta said. "His determination to recover and his extraordinary career that followed continue to inspire wounded warriors today.

"In the U.S. Senate," the secretary continued, "he was one of the most stalwart and effective advocates of the Department of Defense, and a relentless champion of our men and women in uniform and their families. I was honored to have the opportunity to work closely with him when I served as a member of Congress, and in the Clinton and Obama administrations."

Inouye's legacy will endure in the better quality of life he helped to bring to generations of service members and their families and the people of Hawaii, and for his contributions to a stronger national defense, Panetta said. "The thoughts and prayers of all of us at the Department of Defense are with the Inouye family in this time of grief and remembrance,' he added.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Inouye "exemplified the role of servant-leader, both in and out of uniform, and served as a role model for so many Americans."

"As a member of the greatest generation, he gave what many would consider the best years of his life to oppose tyranny in Europe, where he received the Medal of Honor while serving with the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment," the chairman said. "After losing his arm, he could have finished his service to our nation, but that was just the beginning."

While serving in the Senate since 1962, Dempsey said, Inouye was a friend to the military and to those who have served the nation in uniform. "His tireless efforts on support for our veterans, particularly in health care and education, will greatly benefit thousands of military service members and our families for years to come," he said.

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