WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced Thursday that a future destroyer will be named the USS Telesforo Trinidad in honor of a Filipino sailor who rescued two crew members when their ship caught fire more than a century ago.
Fireman Telesforo De La Cruz Trinidad is the only Filipino in the U.S. Navy to be awarded the Medal of Honor. He received the honor for his actions on the USS San Diego in 1915 and at a time when it could be awarded for noncombat valor.
“Since being sworn in as Secretary, I have wanted to honor his heroic actions by naming a ship after him,” Del Toro said in a statement released Thursday. “This ship and her future crew will be a critical piece in strengthening our maritime superiority while also emphasizing the rich culture and history of our naval heritage.”
The news cheered Asian Americans, veterans and civilians in both the U.S. and the Philippines who had urged the naming. They said a named ship would also honor the tens of thousands of Filipinos and Americans of Filipino descent who have served in the U.S. Navy since 1901, when the Philippines was a United States territory.
Trinidad, who died in 1968 at age 77, was aboard the USS San Diego in January 1915 when boilers exploded, killing nine. He was among the more than 250,000 Filipino soldiers who served in World War II, including thousands who died during the brutal 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines.
A future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will bear Trinidad's name, Del Toro said. Thursday's statement said the destroyers are the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet.
In January 2020, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly named a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier after Doris “Dorie” Miller, an African American enlisted sailor who received the Navy Cross for his actions during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.