After a successful GoFundMe campaign, 95 year-old WWII Veteran Robert Almquist of Wisconsin Rapids gets to embark on the trip of a lifetime.
The trip will include a visit to the mast of the USS Oakland, which Almquist served on during his time in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Almquist flies from the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport to San Diego on January 8 attended by his son, daughter, and daughter-in-law. Visit Oakland, the Oakland Visitors & Convention Bureau, made the arrangements to bring the four out west.
While in San Diego, the San Diego Tourism Authority assisted with hotel rooms and tours of the USS Midway and the Maritime Museum. Almquist will also visit Mt. Soledad Military memorial and view a plaque which commemorates his service.
The family flies from San Diego to Oakland on January 10, meeting with its mayor, Libby Schaff, at City Hall and receiving an official proclamation that afternoon. The next day, Almquist will get to see his ship’s mast on display at the Port of Oakland’s Middle Harbor Park. The group will board the USS Hornet for lunch in the officers Ward Room and Almquist will be recognized by the Oakland Navy League and the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
A former Navy pilot and campaign contributor also offered to take Almquist up in her private plane for an aerial tour of the bay in Oakland.
Visit Oakland provided airfare for the family to take an unplanned excursion to Honolulu to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. While there, the family will enjoy a private tour at the naval base and a dinner cruise out on the ocean before returning to Oakland on January 16, then home to Wisconsin.
The trip was made possible through support from those, especially military personnel, who were touched by Almquist’s wish to remember his past. Funds from a GoFundMe page which raised above $5,000 goal and additional private donations allowed the veteran and his family to take the trip.
“It really snowballed. We just can’t believe it,” said his daughter-in-law, Sarah. “People have been so good.”
The campaign received support from residents in both Wisconsin and California. In Wisconsin Rapids, students at Howe Elementary raised funds and invited Almquist over before Veterans Day for a program.
While the days will be jam-packed, the family say they’ll arrive home with plenty of memories to cherish and a dream fulfilled.