GRAND RAPIDS, MI. — A flyover in downtown Grand Rapids Wednesday, one of many events marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
In attendance was one of the oldest and most highly decorated World War II combat veterans still alive today.
102-year-old Virgil Westdale watched the World War II-era planes fly over the footbridge, 75 years after war ended.
Westdale, born Virgil Nisihmura, played a pivotal role during the war as a member of the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit made up entirely of Japanese-American soldiers who helped liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp in 1945.
Westdale says the country came together in the fight against evil and helped bring victory.
“Tremendous numbers of people were behind the effort, without them it couldn’t have been won, so i give them as much credit as I get, even though I was in combat,” Westdale told FOX 17.
“Somebody had to take the tole of combat, somebody had to be behind us here and there, it took a whole effort, I appreciate the guys and girls who did the other work, they might not of liked it, but they did and became part of the war effort really,” Westdale added.
Virgil says Wednesday was the first day he saw those planes fly since the war.
FOX 17 has spoken with Virgil in the past, to read more about this American hero, click here.