Crew from Hjemkomst Viking Ship voyage celebrate 40-years in Moorhead, Saturday

This weekend, several of the men and women who made that 1982, courageous, six thousand mile journey across the Atlantic, will gather at the museum in Moorhead to tell their story on this 40th anniversary, and celebrate a renovation of the space.

Mark Hilde (left) talks with Jeff Solum about their Hjemkomst Viking Ship journey in 1982.<br/><br/>
Finn Harrison/WDAY
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MOORHEAD - These crew members talk about the Hjemkomst journey like it was yesterday.

They are here in Moorhead as part of a weekend reunion, and a chance to see the installation of a new interpretive installation telling the dramatic story. The story of Bob Asp's ship has been told since the 70's.

Bob Asp spent ten years building the Hjemkomst ship, out of a warehouse in Hawley. He was able to see the launching of the ship in the Duluth harbor. But leukemia claimed his life before this crew sailed to Norway.

"We were in college, we had nothing better to do, I guess. It was great. It was life changing, a fantastic adventure," Jeff Solum, a crew member who was twenty at the time.

The idea of this school counselor from Moorhead, building a ship in a potato warehouse in Hawley. 100-oak trees, cut in Rollag. And then, a dream some thought was crazy. Sail the ship from Duluth to NY and then a 30-day voyage to Norway.


"One of the gifts to the crew was free life insurance, and I remember the day filling out the beneficiary forms and I was wondering who would get the $5,000 if we were lost at sea," Paul Hesse, a ship crew member, said.

Mark Hilde was 29 when he sailed with the crew. Paul Hesse was 32. Jeff Solum was 20.

They all remember what is simply called the storm. In the north Atlantic, in the middle of the voyage, it almost took out the ship.

"The 30-foot wave crashed in on us and everybody started to bail with buckets and we got the generator going to start the pumps and that is when we found out there was a crack in the bottom," Mark Hilde, crew member, said.

Lynn Halmrast of Moorhead made the trip to NY but stayed back for the rest. His wife was expecting their first child.

"I will be a dad, not a hero. And that's okay," Halmrast recalls telling a newspaper reporter as the ship sailed out of NY on the way to Norway.

Another crew member showed up Friday in Moorhead for the Saturday reunion. Bjorn Holtet of Narvik, Norway. All shared stories of this rag tag group of sailors, who many doubted but who, today, are still celebrated with a museum that never let the dream of Bob Asp die.

"You see these opportunities, you take them," Hilde said of the lessons learned from the journey.


You can meet the crew and see the newly renovated Ship Gallery space around the ship, tomorrow beginning at 1 pm, at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, where the ship is on display.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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