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World War II: destiny unites disabled veterans.

For a Kansas farm boy hardened by the depression and a sensitive yet determined young Japanese-American Sunday School teacher living in a Pacific paradise, World War II began at Pearl Harbor and ended in the Italian hills. Disabling combat wounds shattered their lives, but destiny intervened to take them to greatness. Today, they share common experiences, personal sacrifices, a place in our nation's history, and as long-time members of the DAV.

For Bob Dole and Daniel Inouye, Pearl Harbor remains a vivid memory. "We thought we were being protected by these two oceans, and so suddenly that myth was exploded," said Dole. "I remember exactly where I was on that Sunday--the University of Kansas in our fraternity house. It changed our lives."

On Dec. 7, 1941, Inouye was preparing to go to church when the radio blared information of the attack on nearby Pearl Harbor. Going into the street with his father, he saw three Japanese aircraft fly overhead. "They were gray in color, pearl gray, with red round dots. And I knew my world had come to an end," he said. Inouye raised his list in the air and cursed the planes overhead.

A Red Cross first aid instructor, Inouye went to help injured civilians. "I had never seen dead people other than those I saw, on December 7th, but to see them sprawled all over the place was quite a shock."

Dole grew up in rural Russell County, Karl., and was a premedical student at the University of Kansas in 1942 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. "They were losing a lot of second lieutenants," said Dole. "We had what they called Officer Candidate School in Ft. Benning, Ga. I decided that was a food idea and 90 days later, or thereabouts, I was a second lieutenant." By 1945, he was with the 10th Mountain Division fighting in the hills of Italy.

Only about a mile from Dole in Italy was another second lieutenant with the Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Earned "Go for Broke" regiment. Daniel Inouye had risen through the ranks to become an officer and he displayed fierce determination to prove that Japanese-Americans were first and foremost Americans.

Alter Pearl Harbor, the United States declared that Americans of Japanese ancestry were considered 4C--the Selective Service Commission designation for enemy alien. "We could not be drafted, nor could we volunteer," Inouye said. "In late 1942, we appealed to the government and the President, and they approved our petition. In early 1943, they opened the doors and we volunteered. They wanted about 1,800 from Hawaii, and about 10,000 volunteered--representing about 85% of the eligible young men of Japanese ancestry."

"We had to demonstrate to Off fellow Americans and to the government that they had made a mistake when they considered us to be disloyal and not good citizens," Inouye said. "And we fully realized at the very outset that to demonstrate this would mean shedding of blood, but we were prepared for that."

Dole and Inouye were both severely wounded in combat only days apart and met while recovering from their injuries. They later served as friends, but on different sides of the political aisle, in the U.S. Senate. And they became members of the DAV. Dole is a member of DAV Chapter 12, in Kansas and Inouye is a member of DAV Chapter 3 in Hawaii. Their inspiring stories are part of the DAV-supported documentary "The World War II Memorial: A Testament to Freedom" airing this May on public television. The documentary will feature interviews with Dole and Inouye and dozens of other World War II veterans--many of them also DAV members.

The DAV National Service Foundation and the Ford Motor Company Fund are two of the organizations providing funding to Now Voyage Communications to produce the 90-minute documentary, which will debut in conjunction with the dedication of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

"Senators Dole and Inouye are outstanding examples of the men and women who sacrificed so much of their lives during World War II," said DAV National Commander Alan W. Bowers. "This television program will be a historical landmark and will remind our nation of the dedication of Senators Dole and Inouye and other outstanding World War II veterans."

Dole was wounded April 14, 1945, as he was trying to rescue an injured radioman. Crawling out of the protection of his foxhole, Dole stayed low to reach the man. "I was dragging him back to the foxhole and suddenly I felt this sting on my right shoulder," he said. "My hands were over my head and I couldn't move my arms. I thought I'd lost my arms. I couldn't move them. It turned out I had a broken neck."

Dole lay there for nine hours before he was finally taken to an evacuation hospital. He was later transported to the Winter General Army Hospital in Topeka, Kan., where he continued his painful recovery, and then later, to Percy Jones Army Medical Center in Rattle Creek, Mich.

"Bob Dole was wounded on a hill about a mile may from mine," said Inouye. "I could see that hill on April 14, 1945. I was wounded on April 21, 1945."

Inouye was leading his platoon in an attack against a hill well defended by one of the last Italian units still in the war when he was shot through the stomach. "The only thing that I felt was it massive punch. It was bleeding slightly, and I felt that it did not in any way obstruct n1y movements, so I told the fellows let's keep on going."

Inouye was again wounded in the battle. He was about to throw a hand grenade when his right arm was shattered at the elbow by an enemy rife grenade. "It was obvious that my arm was gone because it was just hanging and blood was squirting out," he recalled. "I took the grenade from my right hand because the muscles just constricted, and I threw it. Somebody must have been looking after me, because it was very accurate. I continued going up to go for the second machine gun nest and then I got hit in the leg and began rolling down the hill. I kept telling my platoon, 'Keep on going?' We wiped out three machine gun nests and we took the hill. One casualty, me." In 2001, Inouye received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.

Inouye spent 20 months in Army hospitals after losing his right arm. Dole's right shoulder was shattered, and lie was paralyzed from the neck down for a time, but a series of corrective surgeries and his personal courage restored his movement, except for his right hand.

"I think I looked like a scarecrow," said Dole "I couldn't walk. It took about 11 months before I could walk. You go through this period, 'Why me? Why did this happen to me?' And you feel sorry for yourself, at least I did, I confess. But then you get over that and you figure I'm lucky, I'm here."

Fate had brought Dole and Inouye close in Italy, and late brought them together at Percy Jones Army Medical Center in Michigan.

"By Strange coincidence, we ended up 111 the same hospital," said Inouye. "And we became close buddies. There was another fellow, Philip Hart. So three of us were in the same hospital, same type of injuries."

"Hart took care of us and he later turned up in the Senate, too." Dole said. Lieutenant Colonel Philip Hart was wounded during the 1944 D-Day assault on Utah Beach to Normandy. Later, he was elected to the Senate in 1958 and served until his death or Dec. 26, 1976. Today, the Hart Senate Office Building is named in his honor.

The Percy Jones Army Medical Center in Michigan, where the three future senators recovered, last year was renamed the Hart-Dale-Inouye Building. "They named it after the three of us who got together and served in the Senate," said Dole, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964 and the U.S. Senate 1968. He served until 1996, when he resigned to run for President. Inouye was Hawaii's first U.S. Representative in 1959 and was elected to the Senate in 1962, where he still series.

Membership in the U.S. Senate wasn't the only tie between Dole and Inouye--they also are supportive members of the DAV. "I'm very proud to be a member of the DAV, and I worked for years for the DAV trying to help veterans with their claims." said Dole.

"I became a member of the Disabled American Veterans in 1948, and 1 remember that moment very vividly," said Inouye. "I selected the DAV because it was the only veterans organization that was open to all. The only requirement was that you were wounded in service. If I'm going to be serving in a veterans service organization, I want to be with my fellow Americans. And in the DAV, that's the way it was."

Dole and Inouye also joined to support the National World War II Memorial, which will be dedicated on May 29. And both were interviewed for the upcoming documentary. During their interviews, they fondly talked about each other and their 60-year friendship.

"From different backgrounds and different parts of the world, these two outstanding individuals have shared common experiences and sacrifices," said National Commander Bowers. "The DAV is enormously proud of their accomplishments and dedication to our mission to build better lives for disabled veterans and their families. We are grateful that they have participated in "A Tribute to Freedom--and are thankful for their service to our country and their untiring efforts on behalf of disabled veterans."
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Title Annotation:a documentary on veterans 'The World War II Memorial: A Testament to Freedom' to be aired on television
Author:Wilborn, Thom
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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