How close are we to a USS Telesforo Trinidad? Naming campaign continues

‘Hero and history maker’. Facebook photo

A sustained campaign to name a U.S. Navy warship after Filipino sailor Telesforo Trinidad has the support of Filipino American organizations and mostly Democrat congressional leaders.

California Rep. Sara Jacobs, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is leading the effort in the House.

Jacobs said Fireman Second Class Telesforo Trinidad was a hero and a history-maker.  “A USS Trinidad would send a powerful message, commemorating his story and the long history of Filipino and Asian American service… It will highlight the Navy’s commitment to inclusion and diversity and will also honor the tens of thousands of Filipinos who have served in the Navy since 1901.”

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) said Trinidad holds the distinction of being the first Filipino and the only Asian American in the U.S. Navy to receive a Medal of Honor.

In a letter to President Biden, NaFFAA National Chair Brendan Flores said more than 90 members of Congress support the effort.

“On behalf of Filipino Americans, we respectfully request your Administration’s support to name the first U.S. Navy Warship… after Telesforo Trinidad,” writes Flores.

Rep. Sara Jacobs; NaFFAA National Chair Brendan Flores
Trinidad is the first Filipino and the only Asian American in the U.S. Navy to receive a Medal of Honor.

Flores’ letter reads: “The U.S. and the Philippines have maintained uninterrupted economic, cultural and military ties since 1901, when President William McKinley signed an executive order allowing the recruitment of 500 Filipinos in the U.S. Navy as part of the Insular Force. Tens of thousands of Filipinos enlisted in the U.S. Navy between WWI and WWII. After the Philippines obtained its independence from the United States in 1946, over 35,000 Filipinos were recruited into the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1992 under a provision of the Republic of the Philippines-United States Military Bases Agreement. In addition, thousands of Americans of Filipino descent enlisted during this same 40-year period and continue to do so until today.
 
“The naming of a United States Navy combatant ship after Trinidad will resonate strongly not only to several generations of Filipino Americans who have served in the U.S. Navy since 1901 but also to more than four million Filipino Americans who are looking for validation of the seminal contributions of Filipinos to U.S. history. It will recognize as well the shared history and values of two allies, forged in war and peace.”

Trinidad was born on November 25, 1890 in New Washington, Aklan province in Western Visayas. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the United States took possession of the Philippines in the wake of the Spanish-American War. 

The U.S. Navy Memorial recounts how Trinidad saved the lives of two sailors when their ship exploded. In recognition of his bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by the U.S. Navy in 1915.

“He was aboard the armored cruiser USS San Diego which was steaming in the Gulf of California as part of the naval patrol established to protect U.S. interests and citizens in Mexico.  The captain of San Diego decided to conduct a four-hour full-speed and endurance trial to determine if the cruiser could still maintain its officially rated flank speed.  At the end of the trials an obstructed tube of one of the ship’s boilers gave way, creating an eventual chain reaction of other boilers.  The first explosion in the No. 2 boiler vented live steam into the fireroom and forced Trinidad from the fireroom as Ensign Robert W. Cary was closing the door.  Trinidad then realized that his crewmate, Fireman Second Class R. W. Daly, was still inside.  Risking his own life Trinidad re-entered the steam and smoke-filled fireroom and carried Daly out to safety while Ensign Cary held the door open.  As Trinidad carried Daly through the No. 4 fireroom, an explosion of the No. 3 boiler hit Trinidad, burning him in the face.  After passing Daly to safety and in spite of his own injury, Trinidad then assisted in rescuing another injured crewman from the No. 3 fireroom.”

Trinidad died at the age of 77 on May 8, 1968.  He was laid to rest at Imus Public Cemetery, Cavite.



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