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Stationed in Pearl Harbor since the ship’s commissioning in December 2021, Daniel Inouye sailed the nearly 200 nautical miles to the Big Island of Hawaii and then to Maui to foster deeper relationships with the people of Hawaii and to volunteer in their local communities.
“Our crew is honored to represent Senator Daniel Inouye and the ‘Heroes of Hawaii’ who served in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and fought throughout Europe with fierceness and bravery,” said Lt. Juan Cardona, the ship’s navigator. “Wherever we sail around the world, we represent their heroic contributions which safeguarded our country and way of life. Senator Inouye always made it a point to show he was the senator for all the Hawaiian Islands and visits like these give us a chance to show local people that we are "Hawaii's ship.”
Upon arrival to the islands, traditional Hawaiian canoes met the ship at sea for a customary greeting. In Kailua-Kona, Danny Akaka Jr., the son of the late Senator Daniel Akaka Sr., and his wife Anna Akaka, arrived to perform a blessing according to Hawaiian protocol on Kailua pier.
During the ship’s visit to Kailua-Kona, Sailors volunteered at the West Hawai'i Veterans Cemetery where they helped clean gravestones and each planted his or her own tree. Prior to the event, Daniel Inouye’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Dave Haile, placed a ceremonial lei at the memorial to veterans wounded in combat. “Our namesake, Senator Inouye, worked to dutifully remember and honor the veterans who sacrificed for Hawaii and our country,” said Haile. “Today, as we place this lei, we reinvigorate our commitment to remembering those men and women whose sacrifices to defend freedom and democracy around the world allow us to be here today.”
After sailing to Maui, Sailors volunteered at the Maui Economic Opportunity Senior Fair in Lahaina. The fair helps support and strengthen local community organizations on the island. “Volunteering with the local community ensures we give back to those who support us every day,” said Ensign Alexandra Morris. “Seeing the local art and cultural displays allows us to fully understand what our ship represents and defends every time we go to sea. I’m proud to be on a ship that honors this culture.”
In addition to the volunteering events, the Daniel K. Inouye Institute (DKII) sponsored and helped organize the ship’s visits, including engagements and socials across both islands for the Sailors to meet and interact with the local Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
"DKII preserves the story of an American hero and statesman, perpetuates the enduring legacy of his values for future generations, and supports international education and cultural exchanges," said Jennifer Sabas, the executive director of DKII. "We are honored to be a part of the visits and are glad to be able to facilitate connections between the Sailors and the islands."
USS Daniel Inouye is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 23.