US Navy names destroyer after Philippine Medal of Honor recipient

A future Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer will be named USS Telesforo Trinidad, after Firefighter 2nd Class Telesforo De La Cruz Trinidad, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced Thursday.

Trinidad received 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 United States Pacific Fleet.

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 fire rooms, according to a Navy statement.

Trinidad rescued one of his shipmates from the area, suffering burns in the process, then returned to help another, the Navy statement said.

“In appreciation for his gallantry, 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 Secretary of the Navy, said he first heard of Trinidad’s heroism while attending the US Naval Academy.

“Ever since I was sworn in as secretary, I have wanted to honor his heroic deeds by naming a ship after him,” Del Toro said in a Navy press release. “This ship and her future crew will be a vital component in reinforcing our maritime superiority while highlighting the rich culture and history of our naval heritage.”

Trinidad was born on November 25, 1890 in the province of Aklan in the Philippines. 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, according to the NHHC.

Trinidad died in Cavite, Philippines, in 1968 at the age of 77, according to the Navy.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, like the future USS Telesforo Trinidad (DD 139), are the “backbone” of the US surface fleet, according to the Navy.

The ships have been part of the fleet since 1991, when the Arleigh Burke (DD 51) was commissioned.

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