In 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded former Representative and longtime Senator Daniel K. Inouye the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The President remarked that Inouye “taught all of us that no matter what you look like or where you come from, this country has a place for everybody who’s willing to serve and work hard.”
This Edition for Educators focuses on some of the House Members who served in the United States military before turning their attention to serving in Congress.
Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
A Representative and Senator, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii joined the U.S. Army in 1943 as a member of the 442nd “Go For Broke” Regimental Combat Team. Because of his Japanese ancestry, Inouye was initially denied entry into the military. After reapplying, Inouye served valiantly in Europe before being severely injured during heavy combat in Italy; as a result of his injuries, Inouye’s right arm was amputated. Inouye spent 20 months in U.S. Army hospitals before being honorably discharged and retired as a captain on May 27, 1947. He earned a Distinguished Silver Cross, Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart, as well as 12 other medals and citations for his military service, including eventually the nation’s most distinguished award for valor, the Medal of Honor.
Parren Mitchell of Maryland
Representative Parren Mitchell of Maryland graduated from Douglass High School in Baltimore in 1940. Two years later, Mitchell joined the U.S. Army and served as a commissioned officer and a company commander with the 92nd Infantry Division “Buffalo Soldiers.” Mitchell earned a Purple Heart during his World War II service in Italy. Following his discharge from the Army in 1946, Mitchell used the benefits granted in the GI Bill of Rights to enroll in Morgan State College in Baltimore. He later served 16 years in the House.
Wayne Grisham of California
Representative Wayne Richard Grisham of California entered the U.S. Army Air Corps after he graduated from high school. Grisham served as a fighter pilot during World War II. His plane was shot down over Europe and he spent days in a German hospital before U.S. soldiers rescued him. Grisham earned a Purple Heart for his service.
William Anderson of Tennessee
Representative William Robert Anderson of Tennessee graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942 and served in the Navy for 20 years. During that time, he worked aboard the first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus. On August 3, 1958, as part of the secret “Operation Sunshine” under the leadership of Commander Anderson, the Nautilus became the first vessel to travel across the waters beneath the North Pole.
Heather Wilson of New Mexico
Melvin Maas of Minnesota
Representative Melvin Maas of Minnesota graduated from St. Thomas College in St. Paul and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1919. An aviator, Maas fought in both World War I and World War II. During his eight non-consecutive terms in the House, Maas continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve, eventually retiring with the rank of Major General in 1952.
Women Members with Military Service
This chart details the expanding group of women veterans in Congress and touches on the history of Congresswomen’s involvement in the armed forces.
House Records Search
For primary documents on veterans in the House of Representatives, see our House records on Veterans.
George Andrews of Alabama
Learn about the career of Representative George Andrews of Alabama through his son, George Andrews III, and daughter, Jane Andrews Hinds. Andrews was elected to the House while serving in the U.S. Navy. In the audio clip below, Hinds recounts that first election.
This is part of a series of blog posts for educators highlighting the resources available on History, Art & Archives of the U.S. House of Representatives. For lesson plans, fact sheets, glossaries, and other materials for the classroom, see the website's Education section.Follow @USHouseHistory