Interview: Virgil Westdale


Hapa 442nd veteran and pilot. Born in Indiana in 1918 to a Japanese American father and an English/German mother. 

This album introduces the following 5 clips from his interview on February 12, 2013 followed by his profile.

1. Discrimination in Air Corps

2. Fellow Hapa 442 Hana

3. Dachau prisoners

4. Becoming a flyer

5. 522nd and Dachau

* Original interview clips were posted in the Discover Nikkei Interviews section.

** His story is featured in the exhibition, Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History, at the Japanese American National Museum from April 7 – August 25, 2013.

A Collaboration with the USC Hapa Japan Database Project, videographer, Evan Kodani with support of NITTO Tires Life History Project.

Slides in this album 

Discrimination in Air Corps

See, Hap Arnold was head of the Air Corps at the time—General Hap Arnold, which you may know his name—and he was extremely prejudice. So he didn’t want anybody with any kind of association with the Japanese to be a flyer and so…although there had been some success in being …

Virgil Westdale interview #1: Discrimination in Air Corps
Contributed by: editor

Fellow Hapa 442 Hana

Hana, I should say, but I always call him Hana. And he had freckles and kind of reddish hair and he was shorter than I was…but that’s alright. He and I ran around together a lot and when he was killed, all the 442nd guys—about 5 or 6 of them—knew …

Virgil Westdale interview #2: Fellow Hapa 442 Hana
Contributed by: editor

Dachau prisoners

And their breath was just unbelievable they hadn’t—I’m sure they hadn’t brushed their teeth for years maybe—I didn’t know. And so, when you’re a soldier though, you gotta stand there. And these guys would come up real close, you know. They needed…they needed…not sympathy but they needed closeness to human …

Virgil Westdale interview #3: Dachau prisoners
Contributed by: editor

Becoming a pilot

And then I had to make a decision. I had to make a decision on whether I was going to stay in school and then wait to be drafted, or would I want to join the War Training Service—WTS. And this War Training Service was a program set up by …

Virgil Westdale interview #4: Becoming a pilot
Contributed by: editor

522nd and Dachau

And sometimes, you’d see a pile of snow and there’s somebody dead underneath the…you know. That’s…the concentration camp. [Clears throat.] And I know that one of the guys said that, that um, he heard a noise. And their group, someone sent…taken down into a valley, and are being been shot. …

Virgil Westdale interview #5: 522nd and Dachau
Contributed by: editor

PROFILE: Virgil Westdale

Virgil Westdale was born in 1918 on a farm in Indiana, the fourth of five children in the Nishimura family. He was born to a Japanese father and an English/German mother. While attending college, Westdale was interested in flying and received his private pilot’s license.

After the outbreak of World …

Virgil Westdale
Contributed by: editor

Album Type

video interview

editor — Last modified Jun 28 2021 1:49 a.m.

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