About Francis // 弗朗西斯魏 // Fúlǎngxīsī Wèi Brown Wai, CPT
Francis Brown Wai (Chinese: 弗朗西斯魏; Pinyin: Fúlǎngxīsī Wèi; April 14, 1917 – October 20, 1944) was a captain in the United States Army and received the Medal of Honor for actions during the recapture of the Philippines from Japan in 1944. As a youngster, Wai liked to surf and he played several sports in high school and college. He graduated from college with a degree in finance. Although he initially planned to work with his father, he joined the Hawaii National Guard, commissioned a lieutenant. Wai was sent with his unit to fight in World War II and he was killed during the U.S. amphibious assault on Leyte, Philippines.
He was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the United States' second highest decoration for valor. After an extensive review of awards in 2000, his medal was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. To date, Wai is the only Chinese-American and the first Asian-American officer to receive the medal.
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, Headquarters, 34th Infantry Place and date: Leyte, Philippine Islands, October 20, 1944 Entered service at: Honolulu, Hawaii Born: Honolulu, Hawaii
Captain Francis B. Wai distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action, on 20 October 1944, in Leyte, Philippine Islands. Captain Wai landed at Red Beach, Leyte, in the face of accurate, concentrated enemy fire from gun positions advantageously located in a palm grove bounded by submerged rice paddies. Finding the first four waves of American soldiers leaderless, disorganized, and pinned down on the open beach, he immediately assumed command. Issuing clear and concise orders, and disregarding heavy enemy machine gun and rifle fire, he began to move inland through the rice paddies without cover. The men, inspired by his cool demeanor and heroic example, rose from their positions and followed him. During the advance, Captain Wai repeatedly determined the locations of enemy strong points by deliberately exposing himself to draw their fire. In leading an assault upon the last remaining Japanese pillbox in the area, he was killed by its occupants. Captain Wai's courageous, aggressive leadership inspired the men, even after his death, to advance and destroy the enemy. His intrepid and determined efforts were largely responsible for the rapidity with which the initial beachhead was secured. Captain Wai's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army