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American Forces Press Service

Medal of Honor

WASHINGTON -- The United States bestowed its highest military medal for bravery on 10 Asian Pacific Americans between 1911 and 1969.

Filipino Pvt. Jose B. Nisperos was the first Pacific Islander to be awarded the Medal of Honor. He received the award for valor during the Philippine Insurrection while serving in the U.S.

Army's 34th Company, Philippine Scouts. During an action on Sept. 24, 1911, at Lapurap, Basilan, Philippines, according to his citation, Nisperos was so badly wounded he couldn't stand. His left arm was broken and lacerated and he suffered several spear wounds in the body. But he "continued firing his rifle with one hand until the enemy was repulsed, thereby helping prevent the annihilation of his party and the mutilation of their bodies," the citation states.

Nisperos was a native of San Fernandos Union, Philippines.

Filipino Navy Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad received the Medal of Honor for heroism following a boiler explosion aboard the USS San Diego on Jan. 21, 1915.

"Trinidad was driven out of fire room No. 2 by the explosion, but at once returned and picked up Fireman 2nd Class R.E. Daly, whom he saw to be injured, and proceeded to bring him out," the citation states. "While coming into fire room No. 4, Trinidad was just in time to catch the explosion in fire room No. 3. Without consideration for his own safety, Trinidad passed Daly on and then assisted in rescuing another injured man from fire room No. 3. His face was severely burned by the blast from the explosion fire room No. 3."

Trinidad was a native of New Washington Capig, Philippines. Two Asian Pacific Americans received the Medal of Honor during World War II, Sgt. Jose Calugas and Pfc. Sadao S. Munemori.

Calugas was honored for action on Jan. 16, 1942, near Culis, Bataan Province, Philippines. He was a member of the Philippine Scouts' 88th Field Artillery. "A battery gun position was bombed and shelled by the enemy until one gun was put out of commission and all the cannoneers were killed or wounded," the citation stated. "Sgt. Calugas, a mess sergeant of another battery, voluntarily and without orders ran more than 1,000 yards across the shell-swept areas to the gun position.

"There he organized a volunteer squad which placed the gun back into commission and fired effectively against the enemy, although the position remained under constant and heavy Japanese artillery fire," the citation continued. Calugas was a native of Barrio Tagsing, Leon, Hoilo, Philippine Islands. He later retired as a U.S. Army captain and died in February 1998 in Tacoma, Wash., at age 90.