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Daniel Inouye

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WWII hero served Hawaii since '59

WASHINGTON Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the influential Democrat who broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill and played key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, died Monday. He was 88.

Inouye, a senator since January 1963, was currently the longest- serving senator and was president pro tempore of the Senate, third in the line of presidential succession.

His office said Monday that |he died of respiratory complications at a Washington-area hospital.

Inouye was a World War II hero and Medal of Honor winner who lost an arm to a German hand grenade during a battle in Italy. He became the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress when he was elected to the House in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state.

He was the keynote speaker at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and later reluctantly joined the Senate's select committee on the Watergate scandal. The panel's investigation led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Inouye also served as chairman of the committee that investigated the Iran-Contra arms and money affair, which rocked Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Published in The Record/Herald News on Dec. 18, 2012
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