On May 19, the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro announced that they would be naming a future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer after Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo De La Cruz Trinidad, the only Filipino in US Navy history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. By doing so, the US Navy honors the courage and bravery of Telesforo Trinidad and 11,000+ Filipinos currently serving in the US Navy.

Del Toro said in a statement that he first learned about Trinidad’s story when he was a midshipman at the Naval Academy and that he wanted to honor the Filipino ever since he was sworn in as secretary.

“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,” he said through a SECNAV statement.

The timing of the honor could not be more perfect. Del Toro announced this development During Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This celebration honors the contribution of Asians and Pacific Islanders to American history and culture as the US has been widely known to be a melting pot of people of different ethnicities and nationalities, something that has made the US the country it is today.

More so, the first documented Asians to arrive in the Americas were the Filipinos in 1587, when they arrived at Morro Bay aboard the Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza. These Filipinos sailed to the US from the Philippines as they were part of the Manila Galleon Trade, a trade agreement between Acapulco, Mexico, and the Philippines. Both countries had been Spanish colonies during that time. The story of the Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza is quite complicated, as the ship actually came from Portuguese Macau, where its galleons were seized by Portuguese authorities.

“I am pleased to honor Trinidad’s life and legacy today – especially during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” Del Toro said.

“Having a ship named after such a significant figure highlights our diverse culture and that our people will always be our strategic advantage against any adversary. I hope the naming of this ship is a beacon for not only Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders but for all our Sailors, Marines, and civilians who serve across the Department of the Navy. The service and sacrifice of these men and women have made our military and our nation stronger and better.”

Telesforo Trinidad's Medal of Honor along with other awards (Telesforo Trinidad). Source: https://www.facebook.com/TelesforoTrinidad/photos/ms.c.eJw1y8ENwEAIA8GOIsDGB~;03FoVwz9FqCQsKBiXAejh2U5eO~_bU~_q3MdMa5eo~;7f1pTBu~;v21PSItTA~;6wVsghnE.bps.a.430246030320042/430246303653348
Telesforo Trinidad’s Medal of Honor, along with other awards (Telesforo Trinidad/Facebook)

The decision was widely lauded by the Filipino-American community, most of which have worked in some form or capacity with the various branches of the US military. But many of you would know that the US Navy is really where most Filipinos would serve under. Filipinos in the Philippines also rejoiced at the decision as the country is known to be deeply tied to American culture as Manila was once considered US territory after being acquired from the Spanish following the Spanish American War in 1898.