Hickam C-17 dedicated in honor of late Sen. Daniel Inouye

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15th Wing Public Affairs Office / Published August 24, 2014

Reverend Kahu Kordell Kekoa addresses the crowd before giving a traditional Hawaiian blessing to a 535th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 20, 2014, on the flightline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. During the ceremony, the C-17 was dedicated to the memory of local and national hero and Medal of Honor recipient Sen. Daniel Inouye. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden)

Tech. Sgt. Dustin Ching, left, and Staff Sgt. Steven Devenecia unveil the artwork for the newly dedicated “Spirit of Daniel Inouye” C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 20, 2014, following a ceremony on the flightline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. During the ceremony, the 535th Airlift Squadron cargo aircraft was dedicated to the memory of local and national hero, and Medal of Honor recipient Sen. Daniel Inouye. Ching is a 154th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief and Devenecia is a 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden)

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A C-17 Globemaster III from the 535th Airlift Squadron was dedicated "Spirit of Daniel Inouye," in memory of local and national hero Sen. Daniel Inouye, Aug. 20, during a ceremony here.

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, the 15th Wing commander. "Sen. 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 March 2014, and the 15th WG 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, they are true American heroes and patriots," Huiss said.

Guest speaker Maj. Gen. Paul McGillicuddy, the PACAF 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 Sen. Inouye dedicated his life to those principles," he said.

The “Spirit of Daniel Inouye” 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 in 2013.

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 the 442nd RCT 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 2000.

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 RCT with whom Inouye served during his time in the military.

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