By Brad Lendon, CNN
The US Navy is honoring the only Filipino to be awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest decoration for military valor, by naming a new warship after him.
A future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named USS Telesforo Trinidad, after Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo De La Cruz Trinidad, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced Thursday.
Trinidad was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on January 21, 1915, aboard the USS San Diego, a 12,000-ton armored cruiser that was the flagship of the US Pacific Fleet.
On that day, the cruiser’s captain had ordered drills to test the ship’s speed and endurance. But after the four hours of testing, one of the ship’s boilers exploded, setting off a chain reaction in the ship’s boiler and firerooms, according to a Navy statement.
Trinidad rescued one of his shipmates from the area, suffering burns in the process, and then returned to help another, the Navy statement says.
“In gratitude for his bravery, the Navy awarded Trinidad the Medal of Honor and a $100 gratuity,” according to Trinidad’s page on the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) website.
Five sailors died and a total of seven were injured in the accident, according to the NHHC.
Del Toro, the Navy secretary, said he first heard of Trinidad’s heroism while he was attending the US Naval Academy.
“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 Navy news release. “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.”
Trinidad was born on November 25, 1890, in Aklan province of the Philippine Islands. Eight years later, the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain under the Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the Spanish-American War.
Filipinos were allowed to enlist in the US Navy by an order signed by President William McKinley in 1901, the NHHC says.
Trinidad died in Cavite, Philippines, in 1968 at age 77, the Navy says.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, like the future USS Telesforo Trinidad (DD 139), are the “backbone” of the US surface fleet, the Navy says.
The ships have been in the fleet since 1991, when the Arleigh Burke (DD 51) was commissioned.
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