EVANSTON, Ill. -- Legendary World War II Soldier Al Mampre, one of the featured Soldiers in the 2001 HBO series 'Band of Brothers' was honored during funeral services Saturday, June 15th, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston.
Staff Sgt. Albert Leon Mampre served as a medic with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion "Currahee," 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was wounded twice and saw action in some of the fiercest fighting of World War II including the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Market Garden in Holland.
Mampre joined the paratroopers and volunteered to serve as a medic after enlisting in the Army in 1942.
Upon hearing of Mampre's death on May 31, Soldiers assigned to the same unit Mampre served in volunteered to travel to Illinois to provide an honor guard to his funeral service.
"The minute we heard about this we were going to support this (funeral) 100 percent," explained Maj. Scott Krasko, Operations Officer, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
"We wanted to respectfully honor the legacy of Al Mampre. The current Soldiers draw strength from those who went before," he said.
Brig. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, Commanding General, 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command, developed a strong bond with Mampre after meeting him at a Memorial Day commemoration last year.
"It only took one time to meet him to realize what a special person he was. It was because he made everyone feel special," explained Belanger. "He loved people. He gave so much of himself to other people. Everybody experienced his charisma, his wit, his humor and his charm and overall kindness."
Staff Sgt. Paul Mampreian, a medic assigned to 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington is Mampre's great nephew who also attended the service for his great uncle.
"He was always humble. He never talked about himself. Absolutely a down to earth man," explained Mampreian. "He definitely influenced me to become a medic."
The influence of Mampre and his 'Band of Brothers' Soldiers still carries an impact on Soldiers serving in today's Army.
"I really wish I had the chance to meet him. I would have listened to his stories all day long," explained Staff Sgt. John Saxby, Reconnaissance Team Leader, 3rd Brigade, 2-506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. "It's such a big part of our Army history. Those guys in World War II were trained to fight and sustain themselves with the bare minimum. You never know when your equipment will fail. The Soldiers from World War II went days on end without food or bullets. It's something to really be proud of."
Mampre was a religious man and attended services at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. That's where church parishioner Tim O'brien met him eight years ago.
"Our pastor introduced us and we became friends. Al would come by my church pew and crack jokes. He was hilarious and corny," explained O'brien, a Vietnam veteran. "He was from my father's generation but he had great respect for Vietnam veterans."
Church parishioners also remembered Mampre and shared that he had a special place he liked to sit during mass services.
"Al would come to early mass at 8 o'clock" explained church parishioner Marcia Lauf. "The second pew was Al's pew. No one else could sit there."
After church she would go out for breakfast with Mampre at Bakers Square, a local area restaurant.
At the conclusion of the mass service, a police escort led the funeral motorcade that carried Mampre's body to Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie. The Soldier was laid to rest under a gentle rain. A folded American flag was presented to Virginia Mampre, daughter of Mampre. Words were spoken earlier during the mass homily by retired reverend Larry Handwerk.
"He had as they say true grit," said Handwerk. "He was the most generous of men. Wherever he went he was like the sun. His ability to connect with all was like sunshine."