Irene Inouye said her late husband, Sen. Daniel K Inouye, insisted that nothing be named after him.
But she said there were a small number of places that were special to the late senator, and the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana was one of them.
“Those few things that were so significant and so important that he worked very hard to ensure that it would be a place that would provide employment for the island and the state,” said Inouye, Daniel K. Inouye Institute advisory committee member. “We are grateful you are remembering him in this way.”
Over 160 people gathered at PMRF on Wednesday to witness the renaming of the range and operations center building to the Daniel K Inouye Range and Operations Center.
The building functions as a control center for subsurface, surface, air and space operations.
“As I think back to all the impact that the senator has had throughout the world … he was at the bottom of supporting so many (Hawaii) programs, creating so many institutions,” said Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono. “He saw PMRF as a place where multi-platforms of exercises, research and testing could occur. He was a man of vision. He saw what PMRF could do.”
A recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism near San Terenzo, Italy on April 1945, Inouye was a World War II veteran serving with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In Italy, Inouye lost his right arm while charging machine gun nests.
Inouye later entered politics and served for 50 years, the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history. Inouye died on Dec. 17, 2012.
Inouye was instrumental in keeping the base open after the Navy recommended realignment of the facility in 1991.
“Sen. Inouye removed PMRF from the list and set a course in motion that would ensure the future of this facility,” said Capt. Bruce Hay, PMRF commanding officer.
Irene said Inouye understood the linking of a missile defense system in Israel and on Kauai. She said Inouye knew the facilities would be an important part of the country’s global defense.
“Dan worked hard to first save the base and then to make sure there was an important strategic investment that was made to enable the base to continue and have an important role within our nation’s defense,” she said.
Irene said Inouye brought over a billion dollars of funding to the facility.
Hay said Inouye encouraged the Missile Defense Agency to begin testing at PMRF and ultimately funded improvements to the infrastructure.
His efforts, Hay said, resulted in the multi-platform capabilities of the base.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number and types of customers to include NASA and the office of responsive space, culminating in the first space launch in Hawaii in November of last year,” Hay said.
PMRF is the world’s largest multi-environmental range, with over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace.
The base is also the third-largest employer of the island. About 95 percent of about 1,000 people employed at PMRF are Kauai residents.