APRIL 14, 1917


Born in Honolulu, Wai’s mother was of Native Hawaiian ancestry. In high school, he played several sports & paddled for Duke Kahanamoku’s Hui Nalu Canoe Club. At Sacramento Junior College, Wai was State light heavyweight boxing champ. Switching to UCLA, he played football alongside his 2 brothers, as well as Kenny Washington, Woody Strode & Jackie Robinson. After UCLA, Wai was commissioned in the Hawaiian National Guard & was stationed at Schofield Barracks during the Pearl Harbor attack. On October 20, 1944, his unit landed at Red Beach, in Leyte, Philippine Islands. With the U.S. soldiers leaderless & pinned down, he took command, led them through rice paddies, and exposed himself to fire to locate enemy positions. He was killed assaulting the last enemy pillbox. Wai earned the Distinguished Service Cross in 1945. In May 2000, through efforts by Senator Daniel Akaka, Wai received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously from President Clinton.

Source: Lee Meredith, “Captain Francis B. Wai: UCLA and American Hero,” UCLA Bruins.com, 11/11/2013.  Retrieved 8/22/2021, Captain Francis B. Wai: UCLA and American Hero - UCLA Bruins Official Athletic Site | UCLABruins.com (archive.org)
Photo: U.S. Army, undated. Public Domain.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: