U-Haul is celebrating its 75th anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII by featuring some of its employees and vendors who served in the military in World War II in commemorative stories and articles. One of those vendors is Francis T. Wolfe, whose successful affiliation with U-Haul spanned four decades.
Wolfe worked at Pearson's Sign in Tucson, AZ for decades and worked with U-Haul on some of its iconic signage. He was also involved in and a member of the Arizona Sign Association from its beginning in 1958.
During World War II, Wolfe served with the 158th Regimental Combat Team, which became famous for its jungle-fighting skills. The 158th was sent into areas where the Japanese were offering the most resistance. The team took the name of "Bushmasters" after the deadly snake by the same name.
General Douglas MacArthur personally selected the Bushmasters to be part of his command in the Southwest Pacific. MacArthur stated: "No greater fighting combat team has ever been deployed for battle."
Wolfe fought in the Bismarck-Archipelago, New Guinea and Luzon Campaigns. He was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Service Ribbon (three bronze service stars); the Philippine Liberation Ribbon; and a Bronze Star for his service in the legendary 158th. He was honorably discharged in August 1945 as a first sergeant.
After the war, Wolfe moved his family to Tucson, Arizona in 1949 where he became a leader in the field of outdoor advertising, and owner and manager of Arizona Neon for 22 years. He was also owner and manager of the Pearson's Sign Company facility in Tucson from the early 1970s until his death in November 1999.
In the 1960s, Wolfe was instrumental in the creation, design and construction of some of the country’s best-known advertisements. Among those was the innovative mounting of a rotating U-Haul trailer on a pole in the back of a U-Haul pickup truck, and the design of the iconic U-Haul modular sign. This launched a mutually beneficial vendor relationship with U-Haul that lasted for the remainder of his life.
His contributions will be among those memorialized at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s dedication of the renovated Ford Island Control Tower on August 29, 2020.