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PEOPLE THINK that bottle-blond, Winchester-armed Colt Brennan, quarterback for undefeated Hawaii, is a cool story. After all, he starts chucking passes just after team breakfast and doesn't stop until bed check. He has tied or broken 22 NCAA passing records already.
But I know a much cooler Hawaii QB story.
It's about Mun Kin (M.K.) Wong, all 5' 8" and 145 pounds of him, the signal-caller on Hawaii's 1941 team.
"We were 8--1 on Dec. 6, 1941," remembers Wong, who was a sophomore at the Honolulu school that year. "I remember San Jose State was already on the island to play us the next Saturday. The next morning, a roommate woke me up and said the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor. I figured it was a joke."
He ran to the top of Rocky Hill and saw how real it was. "We could see the [Japanese] planes flying in dropping silvery bombs. We could see smoke from the battleships. Fires had started all over the city. There were ambulances whistling by. They were already packing the dead out to burial grounds."
So that very day Wong traded one uniform for another, enlisting with the Hawaii Territorial Guard, the Islands' home defense outfit. Officers handed him a .30-caliber rifle and a six-bullet clip. "That first night was wild," remembers Wong, now 85. "The entire city was blacked out.... Cops would go around, and if they saw a light on in a house, they'd shoot it out. It's a wonder they didn't kill us all."
He slept that night on a gun-cleaning table at the Honolulu armory. When the following Saturday came, he completely forgot that there had been a football game scheduled. Then again, the school was closed, and even after it reopened in 1942, there would be no more football for the rest of the war.
Wong would end up spending five years in the Guard defending the Islands. Along the way he married his high school sweetheart, Florence Young, and when the war ended he went to work in his father's drapery business. Football returned in 1946, and Wong got Hawaii season tickets. But, secretly, one thing gnawed at him.
"I really wanted a varsity letter," he says. "Really, that's why I went out for football in the first place. I remember saying to myself, I don't care if I have to sit on the bench for four years; I'm going to get that letter."
But that 1941 team was largely forgotten. Nobody thought to celebrate one of Hawaii's greatest teams until one day this season—66 years later—when Hawaii coach June Jones heard about M.K. Wong, the sacrifice he had made and the letter he had never gotten. And that's when Jones had a wonderful idea.