Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, the second-longest serving senator in the history of the United States, after Robert Byrd of West Virginia, and the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in American history, died Monday from respiratory complications. He was 88.

Former New Mexico Republican Senator Pete Domenici had nothing but praise for Inouye. “Losing men of Senator Inouye’s caliber should do two things: remind us of the greatness of giants like him and challenge this Congress to put its nation first, and its joint and singular ambitions far second,” he said in a statement. “Never was it impossible for Senator Inouye and me to reach agreement on even the most divisive and difficult issues.”

Born in Hawaii in 1924, Inouye had dreams of becoming a surgeon. During World War II, he served with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units during the war. Inouye rose to the rank of captain and would earn the Distinguished Service Cross and Bronze Star. Those dreams were dashed, however, when, in April of 1945, while leading a charge on a machine gun’s nest in Italy, Inouye was shot in the abdomen. Despite this, he continued with the charge, throwing two grenades before his arm was shattered by a German grenade. Yet again, he continued to direct the troops under his command.

For this, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2000. “By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance,” his citation read.

When the war ended in 1945, Inouye returned to Hawaii and married Margaret Awamura. They had a son named Ken. In 1962, Inouye was elected to the Senate, where he served almost nine terms. Inouye was married to Awamura for 57 years until she passed in 2006. He married his second wife, Irene, in 2008. Both Irene and Ken were by his side when he passed away.

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