RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s the meeting of a lifetime for one Albuquerque veteran. His family used social media to make his dream of meeting President Trump come true.
Bill Barnhouse, 96, still has the steel helmet he wore during World War II.
“They were firing steel down and the steel was hitting the deck hard enough to kill you quick, so that’s my favorite hat,” Barnhouse said.
The veteran was one of 320 sailors on Navy destroyer U.S.S. Kidd when it was struck by a kamikaze pilot in 1945 at Okinawa.
“I fought for the United States all my life,” he said.
His granddaughter, Melissa Hebert, says the Navy veteran has two wishes before he dies. To go back on the U.S.S. Kidd, and shake the hand of a U.S. president.
“I would like to meet the man that’s going to make it the greatest country we’ve ever seen,” Barnhouse said.
Hebert says she was hesitant to put her grandfather’s request to meet President Trump on social media at first.
“It causes a lot of…a lot of people get upset and that’s not what it’s about for me. It’s not about anger and time to debate and let’s get our politics involved. It’s let get this man his wish,” Hebert said.
She says the request was shared hundreds of times and in dozens of veterans group pages. Last week, she was contacted by the Republican Party of New Mexico and they asked if Barnhouse would be available to go to the rally in Rio Rancho.
“He gets to go out and he’s going to lead the pledge of allegiance and then they are going to take him and he’s going to get a picture with the president,” she said.
Hebert says making one of her grandfather’s dreams come true is a great feeling.
“Grandparents always give the best gifts. They do the greatest things for us and it’s really hard to reciprocate that, so I’m able to do something for him for a change,” she said.
Barnhouse says being chosen is the honor of a lifetime.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed by God himself,” he said.
Barnhouse believes he’s last living survivor from the U.S.S. Kidd.