Received both the Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Honor, this Japanese American witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor and has a remarkable life story. Last week's Badass of the Week was so awesome we knew we had to let you hear in his own words about the epic moment he was able to save his soldier's lives by sacrificing his own safety. Daniel Inouye was born in Honolulu Hawaii in 1924, the son of Japanese immigrants. Inouye was a 17-year-old medical volunteer in the territory of Hawaii. He was preparing to go to church and putting on his tie when the news came over the radio that Japan was bombing Pearl Harbor. Inouye ran outside with his father and saw the smoke over at Pearl Harbor and three Japanese planes flew over his home. Inouye said this was when he knew his life was changed. Inouye was the chief medical aid man and he ran to change and report to his medical station. He spent about a week away from home and was the largest aide station on Oahu. His station was busy handling the largest number of casualties. He says he was introduced to blood and war early in his life because of this.

Two weeks after this event, the government made it clear, according to Inouye that all Japanese Americans were enemy aliens. He said it was a blow to him that he wasn’t able to put on his uniform anymore join the people in the defense of the land. They petitioned the government for months and about a year later the White House allowed the Japanese Americans to enlist in the military and Inouye jumped at the chance to serve in the Army. He also said that 85% of the men in Hawaii with Japanese ancestry volunteered for the military and of that 85%, only about 2500 men were selected. Daniel Inouye was 18 years old then.

On April 21, 1945, Lieutenant Inouye was leading an assault on a heavily defended ridge in Italy called the Colle Musatello. That ridge was the strong point for the German defensive line known as the Gothic Line. While leading his platoon in a maneuver, Germans opened fire and when Inouye stood up to attack he was shot in the stomach. Daniel said he thought he was punched in the stomach and not until someone told him he was bleeding did he find the two bullet holes. He said the pain wasn’t that bad and he still had a mission to finish so they continued on. They came upon 3 machine gun nests, which the first he was able to knock out with a couple of grenades. It was after that a German stood up and he pointed a rifle at him and it had a grenade in it with a grenade launcher. The German fired and was a lousy shot, according to Inouye, and he was hit in the right elbow. In his hand, he had a grenade he was holding. He had already pulled the pin and he started looking around for the grenade and found it firmly in his hand, in the arm that was now dangling mostly shot off at his side. He tore the grenade out of his own severed hand and arm and used his left hand to fire the grenade into the last machine gun nest.

Daniel Inouye said he felt no pain during this entire time and it wasn’t until he was shot in the foot and he fell down the hill. The other men in his platoon ran up and began putting a tourniquet on his severed limb, to which Inouye yelled at them “NOBODY CALLED OFF THE WAR!” He stayed for an entire hour after that to make sure that his men were in the correct defensive positions before he left the front lines. The right arm was amputated with anesthesia and he remained in the military until 1947. He was honorably discharged from the military as a captain. He received the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart and initially received the Distinguished Service Cross but it was upgraded by President Bill Clinton to the Medal of Honor. Inouye became friends with future Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole while both were recovering at an Army Hospital, along with future Senator Philip Hart. Hear in his own words the battle in the video above.

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