15th Wing Public Affairs
8/21/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- A
C-17 Globemaster III from the 535th Airlift Squadron was dedicated
"Spirit of Daniel Inouye" Aug. 20, 2014, in memory of local and national
hero Sen. Daniel Inouye during a ceremony here at Hangar 19.
In keeping with Air Force naming tradition, aircraft tail-number 5147
received its "Spirit of" name to honor the late Senator's contributions
to the state of Hawaii and the U.S. in addition to his extraordinary
efforts in support of the military and pivotal role in bringing the C-17
program to Hawaii.
"The United States Air Force owns and maintains 223 C-17 aircraft and
only five have been named after a specific individual," said Col.
Randall Huiss, 15th Wing commander. "Senator Inouye is now part of this
highly esteemed group, which now includes four Medal of Honor
recipients, a USO hero and a 48-year member of Congress."
The formal naming process began here in March, and the Wing just
recently received final approval from the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air
Force, after receiving lower-level approvals from Pacific Air Forces
and Air Mobility Command headquarters.
"They [the honorees] all have different background and stories, but they
all have this in common," said Huiss. "They are true American heroes
Guest speaker Maj. Gen. Paul McGillicuddy, Pacific Air Forces vice
commander, said the long list of Inouye's accomplishments showcase the
fortitude and resilience he possessed.
"We are a nation bound by principles and ideas and Senator Inouye dedicated his life to those principles," he said.
This particular C-17 is also very characteristic of the spirit of
service that Inouye represented, having been used to evacuate displaced
persons and transport food, water and relief supplies to the Philippines
during Operation Damayan last year.
Inouye's military service began in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team
during World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service with
this unit in the Rome-Arno Campaign of 1944 where he was nearly fatally
wounded by a gunshot wound to the chest. He was later awarded the
Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery and heroism for additional
actions in 1945; though, it was later upgraded to a Medal of Honor in
Inouye swapped his military career for one in politics in 1954 when he
was elected to serve in the Hawaii territorial legislature. He later
went on to serve as Hawaii's first U.S. Representative, followed by nine
terms in the U.S. Senate. From 2010 to his death in 2012, Inouye served
as President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, making him the highest
ranking Asian-American politician in U.S. history.
The ceremony was hosted by Huiss and presided over by McGillicuddy.
Other special guests included Irene Hirano Inouye, the late Senator's
widow, and members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team with whom Inouye
served during his time in the military.