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Sen. Daniel Inouye dead at 88

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) speaks alongside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) after the Senate and House reached an agreement on the $789 billion economic stimulus package on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 11, 2009. The bill includes increased unemployment benefits, money for states that face budget deficits and preserves President Obama's requested tax cut. Both Houses are expected to vote on the new package in the coming days. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) speaks alongside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) after the Senate and House reached an agreement on the $789 billion economic stimulus package on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 11, 2009. The bill includes increased unemployment benefits, money for states that face budget deficits and preserves President Obama's requested tax cut. Both Houses are expected to vote on the new package in the coming days. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during World War II, died Monday, his staff said. He was 88.

The Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, who was third in line for the presidency as Senate president pro tem, had been hospitalized with respiratory problems since Dec. 6.

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He died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was transferred Dec. 9 from George Washington University hospital, Roll Call reported.

Fox News said Inouye's wife Irene and his son Daniel Inouye Jr. were at his side when he died. Last rites were performed by Senate Chaplain Barry Black, the network said.

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Inouye served in the Senate since 1963, making him the longest-serving member of the body. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to his office, Inouye's last word was "Aloha."

The Washington Post reported his colleagues eulogized him on the Senate floor.

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"His service to the Senate will be with the greats of this body," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said.

Reid recalled how Inouye, who was of Japanese heritage, was asked by his son why he volunteered to fight in World War II despite the United States labeling Japanese-Americans "enemy aliens." Reid said Inouye's response was he did it "for the children. That's Senator Inouye."

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky cited Inouye's modesty, the Post said.

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"He had every reason to call attention to himself, but never did," McConnell said. "He was the kind of man, in short, that America has always been grateful to have, especially in her darkest hours: Men who lead by example and expect nothing in return."

The Post said Inouye's seat will be filled by an appointment by Democratic Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Inouye's seat will be open for a full term in 2016.

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