Stories of America's Greatest Heroes

Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.

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Sen. Daniel Inouye

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The only US Senator so far to receive both the Medal of Honor and the President Medal of Freedom, Senator Daniel Inouye lost his right arm fighting in World War II. He went on to serve nine terms in the Senate and was the highest-ranking Senator at the time of his death in 2012.

Read the AUSA's graphic novel about Sen. Inouye for a gripping retelling and illustration of his story.

Learn more about Sen. Inouye here:

Ken Harbaugh: Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.

When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 17-year-old Daniel Inouye was on the ground providing first aid to civilian casualties.

Following the attack, Japanese Americans faced violence and discrimination, including a forcible relocation to internment camps and a ban from military service.

But by 1943, the military desperately needed fighting men and lifted the enlistment ban on Japanese Americans.

Daniel, now a freshman studying pre-med at the University of Hawai’i, immediately enlisted in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated Japanese American unit.

The 442nd would become the most decorated unit in American military history.

By April of 1945, Inouye was a 2nd Lieutenant commanding his own platoon.

His unit was sent to San Terenzo, Italy, tasked with pushing back German troops dug into a mountainside. While exposed to enemy fire, 2nd Lt. Inouye was shot in the torso.

He and his men were pinned down by three machine gun nests. Despite his injury, Inouye destroyed two of them.

He was making his way towards the third machine gun with a grenade in his right hand - when German fire nearly severed that arm.

But 2nd Lt. Inouye pried the grenade loose with his remaining hand and threw it, destroying the bunker.

Inouye was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day.

Members of the 442nd were believed to have been denied higher recognition due to their race.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton upgraded Inouye’s award to the Medal of Honor.

After his military service, Inouye would become Hawai’i’s first member of Congress when it achieved statehood in 1959, and the first Japanese American to serve in the House of Representatives

Inouye never lost an election in 58 years, serving nine 6-year terms in the Senate.

At the time of his death in 2012, Daniel Inouye was the most senior senator and the highest-ranking public official of Asian descent in the United States.

The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to Thanks for listening.

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