Esperidion A. Barratto
H Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment
Before the War
Esperidion Barratto was born in Janioay Iloilo, Philippines. He completed four years of high school and immigrated to the United States in 1928. He traveled aboard the SS President Jackson, arriving at San Francisco on May 17, 1928. He eventually settled in Brooklyn, New York.
On September 19, 1934, he married Anna Rocks. According to the 1940 U.S. federal census, he and Anna lived on Thomas Street in Newark, New Jersey. He worked as a chef in a restaurant and had completed two years of college.
Filipino-Americans in World War II
On December 21, 1941, the U.S. Congress amended the Selective Training and Service Act by passing the Filipino Naturalization Bill. This bill permitted the enlistment of all citizens and “every other male person residing in the United States.” This enabled the recruitment of Filipinos living in the United States who were not able to enlist prior to this date.
In July 1942, the U.S. Army formed the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment. The 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment was a U.S. Army regiment composed of Filipino-Americans during World War II. Contrary to popular belief, the Filipino units were not established as a result of an American policy of racial segregation but rather because of the overwhelming number of Filipino volunteers desiring to fight alongside their U.S. counterparts.
Barratto enlisted on June 12, 1943, and served in the U.S. Army in H Company, 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment. In November 1942, Colonel Charles Clifford led the 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment at Fort Ord in Monterey County, California. Though they served in New Guinea and were later stationed in the Philippines, the regiment never saw combat.
On the morning of December 20, 1943, during an authorized weekend pass from Camp Cooke near Santa Maria in California, Barratto was involved in an automobile accident. He was a passenger in the vehicle which collided with a trailer that was blocking Highway 101. He died two days later on December 22, 1943, as a result of his injuries. More than 110,000 World War II service members died in noncombat incidents during World War II.
Barratto was 38 years old at the time of his death. Known as part of the manongs, the Filipino Battalion volunteers tended to be much older than the average enlisted man. The word manong in Tagalog is a title of respect, often used for an older brother or older male relative. Accordingly, the Manong Generation is a title given to the wave of Filipino immigrants in search of a better life in America.
Barrato was buried at San Francisco National Cemetery in California.
In 2015, the U.S. Congress passed a bill authored by Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, awarding Filipino Americans who served during World War II a Congressional Gold Medal. The bill noted that, the “United States remains forever indebted to the bravery, valor, and dedication that Filipino Veterans of World War II displayed. Their commitment and sacrifice demonstrates a highly uncommon and commendable sense of patriotism and honor.”
“Asian Pacific Americans in the U.S. Army.” U.S. Army Center of Military History. Last updated May 13, 2011. Accessed August 21, 2017. http://www.history.army.mil/html/topics/apam/filipino_regt/filipino_regt.html.
Fabros, Alex S. “Second Filipino Battalion.” The California State Military Museum. Accessed January 1, 2017. https://sites.google.com/site/centralcoastroutesandroots/roots/wwii/camp-san-luis/second-filipino-battalion.
“Esperidion Barratto.” National Cemetery Administration. Accessed April 3, 2017. http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/index.html?cemetery=N895.
Esperidion A. Barratto, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Army, RG 319, National Archives and Records Administration - St. Louis.
Esperidion A. Barratto, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Department of the Army.
New York, King County. 1940 U.S. Census. Digital Images. http://ancestry.com.
Infantry Reports, World War II Operations Reports, 1941-1948, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1917-, Record Group 407 (Box 16950); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.
“Senate Bill 1555: Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015.” 114th U.S. Congress (2015-2016). https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1555/text.