Sen. Inouye dies at 88

Sen. Daniel Inouye
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Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) has died of respiratory complications after being admitted to a Washington-area hospital earlier this month.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Inouye's death on the Senate floor.

The 88-year-old Inouye was the country's longest serving senator. He just completed his 50th year in the chamber.

Inouye was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center so doctors could observe him and monitor his oxygen intake.

Inouye was a decorated World War II veteran and a Medal of Honor recipient. He has long been a force in Hawaii politics. He served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and is the Senate's president pro tempore, third in the presidential line of succession.

Statement by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

"The men and women of the Department of Defense have lost one of their most dedicated advocates, and I have lost a dear friend, with the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye.  His life of service to the people of Hawaii and to this nation 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.  His determination to recover and his extraordinary career that followed continue to inspire wounded warriors today.  In the U.S. Senate, 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. 

            "Daniel Inouye's legacy will long endure in the better quality of life he helped bring to generations of military personnel and their families, to the people of Hawaii, and in the contribution he made to a stronger defense of the United States of America.  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." 

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