Elmer Hugo Almquist, the son of Albert and Emily Almquist, was born at Mead, Saunders County, Nebraska, on February 5, 1893. His parents, both of Swedish lineage, were typical of the highest type of pioneers whose sturdy character and fortitude made possible the development of the west. Their son inherited from them many commendable characteristics that were to serve him in good stead during his future army service.
“Pete,” as he was affectionately known to his friends and classmates, was reared at Wahoo, Nebraska. After creditably completing the grammar and high school curriculum at Wahoo, he proceeded to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, where he continued his studies in 1912-13.
In 1914 he was appointed to the United States Military Academy by the Honorable C. H. Sloan, 4th Congressional District, Nebraska, entering the Academy June 15, 1914.
“Pete’s” quiet humor and sensible attitude soon welded firm friendships among his new associates. He had the faculty of devoting his entire time, interest, and attention to the individual who might be conversing with him at the time. His friends’ interests, problems, and difficulties were adopted as his own.
Although not an “engineer,” “Pete’s,” thorough academic preparation and his natural studious attitude made it possible for him to master his studies without undue difficulty.
On August 30, 1917, he was graduated and assigned to duty with the 23rd Cavalry.
He later served at Camp Fremont, California, then at the School of Fire at Fort Sill and at the Field Artillery School at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky. After a tour of duty at Camp Bragg, North Carolina, he was sent to duty with the Field Artillery in the American Army of Occupation, Coblenz, Germany, having been transferred to the Field Artillery on July 1, 1920.
Returning from Germany May 4, 1922, he served with his battery at Montauk, Long Island, to August 30, 1922, and then at Fort Sill, where he remained until August 24, 1925, when he was detailed for four years as instructor of modern languages at the Military Academy.
After serving at Fort Bliss for a year, he was detailed as instructor of Spanish at the Command and General Staff School for the year 1930-31. The following year he spent taking the General Staff School course, graduating in June, 1932, one of the first of his Academy class to complete this course.
His next assignment was to duty with the R. O. T. C. unit at The Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Alabama. Here he gave in full measure, six years of service. He thoroughly enjoyed his work at this school, and his efforts were appreciated by the faculty and student body.
In 1940 he was ordered to duty as instructor with the 128th Field Artillery (Missouri National Guard) with station at Columbia, Missouri. This proved to be “Pete’s” last station and duty. His health had not been of the best, and he died December 30, 1939. He was laid to rest in the cemetery in the town where he was reared, Wahoo, Nebraska.
On October 30, 1895 he was married to Victora Fredonia Williams at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Victoria was his constant and devoted companion for the balance of his life. To this union were born Elmer H., Jr., who is now a lieutenant, U. S. Army; Peter W., who is now a yearling at West Point; and their only daughter, Mary E.
The high esteem in which “Pete” was held by the R. O. T. C. students at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Alabama, is indicated by the following extract of an article that appeared in “The Auburn Plainsman” when he left that station.
It’s very difficult for a man to express his feelings about a man like Major Almquist. There was something about him that icon men. In the several summers that he spent in R. O. T. C. Camp he watched after the Auburn boys like a mother hen. He could discipline a student and, have him go away still his good friend; more than once he stood up for the wronged, and those he fought for have never forgotten. In the classroom and on the drill field he taught men something and made them like it.
The boys who served under him felt for him the genuine respect that goes only to a real man, yet they admired him and they liked him with an intensity that icas very nearly akin to love.
No higher compliment than that can be paid to any man.
“Pete” left a host of friends wherever he served. His efficiency, high sense of honor and loyalty, and absolute devotion to duty marked him as one who faithfully followed the motto of his Alma Mater; “Duty, Honor, Country.” Although forgiving of the shortcomings of others, no one “hewed to the line” more strictly than he.
He possessed a keen sense of humor. He has earned his rest and will be waiting at the end of the gray line to greet his host of friends with a quiet but warm smile and hand clasp. Aloha!
—W. H. D.