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May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This is a time where our country comes together to highlight and recognize the many different Asian Americans, native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders’ cultures and contributions. It is also a great time for us to recognize and celebrate the contributions of our Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders Veterans.
For more than 200 years, men and women of Asian and Pacific Island decent have voluntarily taken the oath to “support and defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.“
Among the first in military service were Filipino Americans, also known as “Manilamen,” who served under Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson. Filipinos initially served on ships captained by Frenchman Jean Baptiste Lafitte who later would join forces with Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. Many of these Filipino men would later join the U.S. military and thus began their service to our country.
Asian American, native Hawaiians and Pacific islander men and women have fought with honor and distinction on the battlefields. Some of these soldiers and sailors have gone above and beyond the call of duty and were awarded Medals of Honor, Silver Stars and Congressional Gold Medals.
In 1911, US Army Pvt. Jose Nisperos, the first Asian American Medal of Honor recipient, was a member of the Philippine Scouts under the U.S. Army. In 1915, Navy Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad was the only Asian American awarded Medal of Honor during peacetime.
Twenty-one Japanese-Americans of