A Japanese American veteran who was stripped of his wings 75 years ago because of his race has now gotten them back.
The wings were returned to Virgil Westdale at his 100th birthday celebration, reported MLive
Westdale joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and trained to become a pilot. However, Japanese Americans were not allowed to receive their pilot’s license, so he was transferred to the segregated 442nd regiment and his wings were taken away.
Westdale’s mother is White and his father is Japanese and had been in the U.S. for 30 years when the wings were stripped.
“But that didn’t count,” he said. “They were only looking at me from my other background from my dad,” Westdale told Wood TV.
Westdale went on to a celebrated career in the military. In April 2012, Westdale along with 15 other former U.S. soldiers, were honored for their role as liberators of Nazi concentration camps.
At the celebration, Westdale was presented with Army Air Corps Wings by Maj. Gen. Greg Vadnais. The ceremony took place at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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