SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Navy will honor a sailor’s bravery aboard the USS San Diego all the way back in 1915 by naming a new guided-missile destroyer after him.
Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo De La Cruz Trinidad, the only Filipino American in Navy history to receive the Medal of Honor, was serving aboard the USS San Diego when an obstructed tube in one of the ship’s boilers gave way, creating a chain reaction and an explosion.
Trinidad sprung into action, opening a closed space and rescuing fellow Fireman 2nd Class R. W. Daly. As he carried Daly to safety, another explosion hit Trinidad, burning his face. He carried on, though, dropping off Daly and even heading back in to help another wounded shipmate despite his own injuries.
Trinidad received his history-making Medal of Honor while he was still alive, and now a future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will bear his name.
“I am pleased to honor Trinidad’s life and legacy today – especially during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro.
“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.”
Arleigh Burke destroyers are “the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet,” military officials said in a statement, explaining that the vessels conduct a variety of operations and have “multi-threat” combat abilities against aircraft, ships and submarines.
Rep. Sara Jacobs, who represents a large portion of central San Diego in Congress, led a push from legislators to name a ship for Trinidad.
“This has been so important to folks in San Diego, especially in our Filipino community,” Jacobs said in an emailed statement. “The USS Telesforo Trinidad will honor Fireman Trinidad’s selflessness, bravery, and service, and will also, at last, uplift the proud history of Filipino and Asian American military service.”
The USS San Diego that Trinidad served aboard later sunk in 1918, according to Navy historians. The wreck, located off the coast of New York, has drawn salvagers and become a popular dive site. Now an amphibious transport dock ship bears the San Diego name.