Book Signing: Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, And WWII Soldier Of The 442nd Regimental Combat Team by Virgil Westdale and Stephanie A. Gerdes

  • en
Conference/Presentation

Sep 201026
2:00p.m.

Japanese American National Museum
100 N Central Ave
Los Angeles, California, 90012
United States


In 1942, Virgil Westdale was a successful young flight instructor when the government ousted him from the Air Corps and demoted him to army private. Having grown up as a Japanese American midwestern farm boy, Westdale (a hapa) had his first taste of Japanese culture when he was sent to train with the all Japanese American unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was ultimately transferred to the 522nd Artillery Battalion, where, as a member of the Fire Direction Center, he helped push the Germans out of Italy, rescue the "Lost Battalion" in France, and free prisoners from Dachau Death Camp in Germany.

After the war, Westdale went on to pursue a career in research and development with large corporations. He received 25 U.S. patents and earned an international award for his work with photocopier components. In retirement, he has been working for the TSA, returning to the worlds of aviation and national security.

Written for the lay reader as well as the history buff, Westdale's stories of World War II challenge preconceived notions of what we think we know about a soldier's life in Europe and offer images that go beyond the history books.

There will be a book signing after the program.

About the Authors
The son of a Caucasian mother and Japanese father, Virgil W. Westdale was born in 1918 and grew up on a midwestern farm. After the war, he obtained two university degrees and received 25 patents for his work as a scientist in research and development. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and enjoys tap and ballroom dancing.

Stephanie A. Gerdes teaches third grade in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received her bachelor's degree from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois and her master's degree in reading and language arts. She is active in her church, teaches piano, and enjoys history, reading, cultural events, and ballroom dancing.

 

JANM . Last modified Sep 12 2010 12:35 p.m.


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