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Medal of Honor Recipient Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad

May 2, 2017 | By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
As we begin to wrap up Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, we want to take a quick look, and highlight the service of Medal of Honor recipient, Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad. Born on Nov. 25, 1890, in Aklan Province, Panay, Philippine Islands, Trinidad enlisted in the Navy after the United States took possession of the archipelago in the wake of the Spanish-American War, and was assigned to USS San Diego (Armored Cruiser No. 6).

On Jan. 21, 1915, while steaming in the Gulf of California as part of the naval patrol established to protect U.S. interests and citizens in Mexico, the captain of San Diego decided to conduct a four-hour full-speed and endurance trial to determine if the cruiser could still maintain its officially rated flank speed. At the end of the trials an obstructed tube of one of the ship's boilers gave way, creating an eventual chain reaction of other boilers.
Read: Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Naval History
The first explosion, in the No. 2 boiler, forced Trinidad from the fireroom as Ens. R. W. Cary, Jr. was closing the door. Trinidad then realized that his crewmate, Fireman 2nd Class R. W. Daly, was still inside. Risking his own life, Trinidad re-entered the smoke-filled fireroom and carried him out to safety while Cary secured the door. However, as Trinidad carried Daly through the No. 4 fireroom, an explosion of the No. 3 boiler hit Trinidad, burning him in the face. After seeing Daly to safety and in spite of his own injury, Trinidad then assisted in rescuing another injured crewman from the No. 3 fireroom.

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In gratitude for his bravery, the Navy awarded Trinidad the Medal of Honor and a $100 gratuity. Trinidad survived the ordeal and lived a long life, finally passing away at the age of 77 on May 8, 1968 in Imus, Cavite, Republic of the Philippines.

Vignette giving details on why Telesforo Trinidad received the Medal of Honor for actions taken aboard USS SAN DIEGO on 21 January 1915