Vicente De Castro was born Jan. 8, 1906, in Batangas province in the Philippines.
It’s unclear exactly when he enlisted in the Navy, but his name appears on the passenger list of a transport that arrived in San Francisco on Jan. 19, 1929. He was identified as a mess attendant third class — an entry-level Navy job.
Mr. De Castro was an officer’s steward third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
As a native of the Philippines, Mr. De Castro was discriminated against by the Navy. Sailors from the Philippines or Guam or who were Black could enlist in only one job before the start of World War II: mess attendant. Messmen cooked, cleaned and performed other services. They could advance to become stewards or cooks for officers, but that was their limit.