LISTEN to this edition of Hometown Heroes
88-year-old Don Westfahl appears on the June 29, 2013 edition of Hometown Heroes. Westfahl volunteers as a docent at Minter Field Air Museum in Shafter, helping to preserve the history of a base where he trained during World War II.
Don Westfahl explaining one of the many fascinating displays at Minter Field Air Museum. This one is a replica of the Robin Hood “toby jug” featured in the movie 12 O’Clock High, about a WWII bomb group in Europe.
Originally from the small town of Okeene, OK, Westfahl first came to California as an Army Air Corps cadet in 1943. You’ll hear him remember how a “board dance” at the sprawling Minter Army Air Field complex had a life-changing impact. His time at Minter during the war was brief, but you’ll him recall training in a BT-13, an aircraft you can find at the air museum today. You can get Don’s first-hand accounts and acquired aviation knowledge by visiting the museum any Saturday, and you’ll also find a small display of photos from his military career.
Part of Don’s display at Minter Field Air Museum. For more photos, visit the Hometown Heroes facebook page.
Don became a co-pilot on a B-25 crew, and was about to be deployed overseas with a bombardment group, when destiny intervened with an assignment to weather reconnaissance training. He eventually hopped his way from Savannah, GA to Guskhara Airfield in India in a B-25. Listen to the program to hear Don remember flying with the 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, including many hours flying on instruments “in the soup.” Returning in February, 1946, he finally got to meet his first child, a son who had been born while Don was flying in the China Burma India theater. Don has been in Bakersfield since 1946, spending 40 years in the oil industry. You’ll hear how he ended up becoming a docent at the museum, and why he’ll keep serving that way as long as he is able. The museum is housed in the original firehouse of the airfield and includes artifacts from Minter and elsewhere.
This well-preserved aircraft tug on display in Shafter, was at Oahu’s Wheeler Field on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked.
Visit Minter Field Air Museum any Friday or Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission is free. If you happen across Don Westfahl, please thank him for serving our country.