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Fort Benning parade grounds to be named for Inouye

Updated: 
August 26, 2014 - 12:05am

Newly minted U.S. Army soldiers marching in graduation ceremonies at Fort Benning, Ga., will soon be treading in the figurative footsteps of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, one of Hawaii’s best-known leaders.

The parade field, adjacent to the National Infantry Museum, is the site of all U.S. Army Infantry basic training graduations. Almost 18,000 new Infantrymen will march across the field in parades marking their successful completion of basic training this year.

A World War II veteran, Inouye enlisted shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served with the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in combat near San Terenzo, Italy, in April 1945. He lost his arm as a result of injuries he suffered during the battle.

The ceremony, slated for Sept. 12, is being conducted in conjunction with the graduation of two Infantry basic training companies. During the ceremony, soil from San Terenzo will be sprinkled on the field.

“Honoring a soldier by naming a field or building for him or her is not something that the Army takes lightly,” Gary A. Jones, Maneuver Center of Excellence public affairs officer said in a statement. “Naming Fort Benning’s largest parade field for the late senator will encourage new infantry soldiers who will graduate there to reach for the standards set by then Lt. Inouye and his unit, the storied 442nd Regimental Combat Team.”

When the field was first used in 2009, soil from nine battlegrounds was sprinkled on the field by veterans of those battles or their descendants. Some of the soil was also preserved in glass containers and sealed in granite pavers at the edge of the field. As the new Infantry soldiers graduate and pass in review, they march on soil where their Infantry forefathers fought.

It’s by no means Inouye’s first recognition He’s also been honored with a namesake highway, pharmacy school, destroyer, F-22 maintenance facility, C-17 aircraft and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility, among other facilities in Hawaii alone.

Elsewhere on the mainland, the Battle Creek Federal Center in Michigan was renamed in 2003 the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center to honor the three senators who had met while they were being treated at the hospital during WWII. It honors Inouye, Philip Hart of Michigan and Bob Dole of Kansas.

At Bethesda, Maryland, the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing is touted as among the nation’s foremost academic leaders.

In February 2007, the Citadel dedicated the Inouye Hall in his honor. He helped Citadel grad Sen. Fritz Hollings get $3 million in funding for it.

And just last year, Room S-126 of the U.S. Capitol was dedicated as the “Senator Daniel K. Inouye Room” in recognition of his service to the Senate and the people of the United States.

Inouye’s name is even carried internationally. Israel is naming an Arrow defense missile facility after Inouye for his contribution to Israel, marking the first time Israel has named a military facility after a non-Israeli.

“Reviewing Sen. Inouye’s service to our country is humbling. As a soldier, he served during an era that forced him and his brothers-in-arms to fight our nation’s enemies in combat as well as battle racial discrimination at home,” Jones said. “As a Congressman his mission of service continued for decades before he entered the U.S. Senate. He was always a dedicated supporter of soldiers and their families, and he is sorely missed.”

Stephens Media Washington Bureau contributed to this report.