Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Duty, Honor, Respect

I normally am against Democrats and politicians who hold public office for their entire adult lives; I am also against those same politicians being awarded medals for ancient military service that they weren't awarded at the time. It seems they just called in a few favors and picked up an award others have died for.

Daniel Inouye seemed to fill all of those requirements. A Democrat, he has been in Congress, first in the House and then in the Senate, since 1959; before I was born. Awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for action in Europe during the Second World War, President Bill Clinton upgraded the DSC to a Medal of Honor. Honors inflation; friends will be friends I thought. Let's see what the fuss is about, then we can really make a scathing post about the the whole package.

I came away with a new respect for Captain Inouye. I still don't like that he was a Democrat, and that he spent more than 50 years in Washington, but that man should have been awarded Medal of Honor in 1945.

There is a website that has every citation for every Medal of Honor given; Here is Captain Inouye's story:

Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper's bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Impressive enough, but Wikipedia has a version with a little more detail:

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Tuscany, Italy called Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint along the strip of German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, which represented the last and most unyielding line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions just 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach; ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and fire from his Thompson submachine gun. After being informed of the severity of his wound by his platoon sergeant, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he also successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.
As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, eventually drawing within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade into the fighting position, a German inside the bunker fired a rifle grenade that struck him on the right elbow, severing most of his arm and leaving his own primed grenade reflexively "clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore". Inouye's horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the German aimed his rifle to finish him off, Inouye tossed the grenade off-hand into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. When he awoke to see the concerned men of his platoon hovering over him, his only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them to return to their positions, since, as he pointed out, "nobody called off the war!"

The reason his DSC was upgraded to a Medal of Honor was most likely because of his race; Daniel Inouye was Japanese-American. Had he been an American of European descent there would have been no doubt his actions would have merited the Medal of Honor.

No matter that Senator Inouye went on to become a Democrat; Not matter that he served 50 years in Washington- both things that are an anathema to me. In 1945 Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye was a hero. For that he has my respect.

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