Last month, the Reuben H. Fleet Foundation donated $50,000 to Vets Helping Heroes. This money will go directly towards providing an injured veteran with a service dog for life. This generous grant award was allocated by fund management company, The San Diego Foundation, whose mission is to build and allocate charitable funds for the benefit of San Diegans.
Founder of the Reuben H. Fleet Foundation was himself a veteran. After serving as a military aviator, overseeing the training of aviation pilots and pioneering the first US Air Mail service, Major Fleet left the military in 1922. In 1923, he founded the company Consolidated Aircraft in Buffalo, NY, which trained pilots and developed new aircraft.
In the spring of 1935, Fleet relocated to San Diego, reasoning that it would offer better weather for developing and flight-testing new aircraft, particularly the seaplanes. In a move unprecedented in industry, Fleet transferred his entire operation in 157 freight cars as well as his employees and their families to the newly constructed factory in San Diego. Consolidated Aircraft developed many airplanes of World War II, including the B-24 Liberator and PBY Catalina.
As coincidences have it, Fleet’s company, Consolidated Aircraft also built the aircraft that Irwin Stovroff — the founder of Vets Helping Heroes – flew in World War II, the B-24 Bomber. (Stovroff is no stranger to stranger-than-fiction coincidences…When he was a POW in World War II, he soon realized that his German interrogator was a childhood neighbor from Upstate New York! Watch this blog for more details of this story, which could surely be a movie premise!)
Major Fleet passed away in 1975, the same year that The San Diego Foundation was founded (the coincidences in this story continue!) even though the two foundations were as yet unrelated. In 1985, The Reuben H. Fleet Foundation donated $8 million in assets to The San Diego Foundation. Since then, The Foundation expanded the Reuben H. Fleet Theater & Sciences Center, which — with its 100-plus science exhibits and its IMAX theater – serves the public by educating all ages about science and technology. The center has been the best-attended museum in the city and a top ten attraction in San Diego. Over 35 years, The San Diego Foundation has granted $700 million to improve the lives of the local community, now and into the future.
Thanks again the Reuben H. Fleet Foundation and The San Diego Foundation for the generous donation to Vets Helping Heroes.