An Evening with Virgil Westdale: Farmboy, Pilot, Inventor, and WWII Soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team

CJRC Hapa Japan Database Project

Virgil Westdale, Japanese-American WWII veteran and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011 for his service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, shares his exceptional life story.

Virgil Westdale shares his personal experiences of growing up on a midwestern farm, training to be a pilot, and fighting with the distinguished 442nd Regimental Combat team during WWII. During the war, Westdale fought in one of the most ferocious battles of WWII, suffered prejudice at the hand of the U.S. government, made friends with the German citizens, and freed prisoners in the Dachau Concentration Camp. After the war, he earned two university degrees and went on to a successful career in research and development, resulting in twenty-five U.S. patents and an international award. 

The son of a Caucasian mother and Japanese father, Virgil Westdale was born in 1918 and grew up on a Midwestern farm. During WWII, he fought with the distinguished Japanese American unit, the 442nd, in Italy, France, and Germany. After the war, he earned two university degrees and received twenty-five patents as well as an international award for his scientific work in research and development. In his retirement, he worked for the TSA for fourteen years. He resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and enjoys sharing his experiences with historical, civic, school, and retirement groups as well as ballroom dancing.