From battling the enemy on the front lines to steering massive naval ships, Asian-Americans have proudly served in our country’s military since the War of 1812.
Although they’ve been a vital part of our growing military culture, we don’t often hear the stories about how they positively impacted our history.
These under-appreciated brave men did just that.
1. José B. Nísperos
A private in the Army’s 34th Company of the Philippine Scouts, he became severely wounded while fighting off rebel forces in the Philippine Islands in 1911. With only one hand, he fought the enemy until they retreated, saving the many lives of those with whom he served.
Nísperos was the first Filipino to receive the Medal of Honor for his heroics in battle.
2. Telesforo Trinidad
In January 1915, a boiler exploded aboard the USS San Diego, violently knocking Trinidad backward and forcing him to abandon the ship. He gathered himself and returned to save two of his fellow men, despite suffering from his own burns.
The Navy awarded Trinidad the Medal of Honor and a $100 gratuity.
3. Kurt Chew-Een Lee
Lt. Lee was the first Asian-American Marine Officer in American military history and a freaking hero.
On the night of Nov. 2, 1950, Lee saved thousands of men during an attack while serving in the Korean War. He ventured out on a single man reconnaissance mission to locate the enemy and eventually confused them using a weapon none of his other Marines possessed — the ability to speak Mandarin.
4. Joe Hayashi
Born in Salinas, California, Hayashi joined the Army and volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
In April 1945, Hayashi exposed himself so he could direct mortar fire onto an enemy position and single-handedly destroyed three machine gun posts. Sadly, he was killed soon after.
Hayashi was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton.