Eddie Aikau

by Cassie Medina from San Diego, California in United States


120272Eddie doing what he loved 

Eddie Aikau greatly exceeds the definition of fearless. He demonstrated this trait in the ocean with his surfboard. “Eddie braved surfed that often reached 20 feet high or more to make a rescue” (“Eddie Aikau Foundation”). He had no fear of the ocean. If he saw somebody was trapped in the waves and needed help, you would see him running in with his board within seconds. He always sprinted into danger, no matter the circumstances. Heroes don’t run away from danger, they go towards it. Eddie, no matter the height or power of the waves, would without a doubt run into danger to save another life. Eddie also had to set his fear aside and faced the biggest challenge of the island, the ocean. Eddie says, “Nobody wanted to come here to work. They knew there were the biggest waves here… this is the ultimate for people getting in danger” (Coleman 90). Even surfers who take on the waves on a daily were too scared to take on this challenge. Eddie, aware of the obstacles he would face, accepted this role to make sure he protected the lives of others and made people felt safe on the beaches. In order to do this, he had to be fearless, as people's lives were in danger and he knew he had to make a difference. Heroes will do whatever it take to make a difference in even a single person’s life. Eddie greatly displayed this as he took on the position as Waimea Bay’s new lifeguard.

120344The newspaper that reported Eddie was missing after the crew's canoe was

Eddie always put other people before himself, making him selfless. He dedicated his own life to protecting others. “There was never a single drowning at Waimea Bay while Eddie was on duty. He patrolled the beach even on his days off when the waves  looked dangerous” (Coleman 91). He made sure every life was retrieved, even if it meant risking his own. This shows that Eddie didn’t just patrol the beach because it was his job, he was a lifeguard because he truly cared about the well being of others. When there were any potential dangers, nothing was more important to Eddie than being there at the beach to spectate and make sure everybody that walked the beach was safe. The fact that not a single life was lost while he was a lifeguard shows that he took his job very seriously and even through the monstrous waters, he would always go. In the 1970’s Eddie was chosen to be a crew member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, sailing to Tahiti for a voyage. Unfortunately, during their voyage, their ship was capsized by a raging storm. “In an attempt to get to land to save his crew and the Hokule'a, Aikau paddled toward Lanai on his surfboard. Hours later a commercial airplane spotted the Hokule'a and the rest of the crew was soon rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. Aikau was missing at sea” (Eddie Aikau Foundation) . Even after being a brand new crew member, Eddie was still the first and only person to volunteer to go against the horrifying waves to seek help. He knew and was aware of the endless ways he could potentially lose his life.  In his eyes, saving the crew was more important to him. He took a risk to try and save them, not for the recognition, but because his instincts and heart told him it was the right thing to do. Sadly, his acts of selflessness is what took his life as he was never seen again after stepping up to go get help for the crew. Eddie’s extreme acts of selflessness are part of what makes him a hero.

120862Eddie Aikau: 1971 lifeguard of the yeareddieaikaufoundation.org120350Eddie's memorial in Waimea

Fearless and selfless greatly define Eddie’s character. He was not only an incredible surfer, but a man with a heart bigger than the ocean itself. His heart was filled with love for others, whether he personally knew them or not. His acts of fearlessness and selflessness were not just a one time act, they occurred on a daily and were a lifestyle for him. Eddie Aikau inspires me because he instinctively always cared for others and expected nothing in return. Just knowing everybody was safe was enough for him. The actions he displays awakens me to the effects just a simple act of kindness can do to a person and encourages me to do more for others. I also admire how much his community looks up to him and how greatly they speak of him. One of Eddie’s friends says in a documentary, "But I think he was color blind. I feel like Eddie was more open and more loving to all races than many people at the time. It just felt like he just, if you had an open heart, he could see that immediately" (Eddie Aikau Foundation). Eddie had a reputation of accepting everybody no matter the color of their skin. All he looked for in a person was a heart. That is the kind of person I aspire to be because there aren’t very many people with the same mindset as Eddie in our world today. Eddie Aikau’s legacy will always remain in our hearts, not only for his acts of bravery, but also for his outlook on life and others.


Works Cited

Coleman, Stuart Holmes. Eddie Would Go. Yellow Jersey, 2004. Print

“Eddie Aikau Foundation.” Eddie Aikau Foundation, 2006,


Page created on 2/13/2018 6:41:34 PM

Last edited 9/2/2021 10:31:45 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

The Eddie Will Run Without Quicksilver - The Aikau family is holding a big wave contest in Eddie's memory.
Eddie Aikau Foundation - Shows Eddie's main life events
Hawaiian: The legend of Eddie Aikau - A 30 for 30 ESPN film on Eddie Aikau