Sergeant Ware wasn't born in this country, but died serving it.
Ware, known as "AD" to friends and family, was remembered for the position he played in a sport he loved, which was soccer. Friends say was a goalie on the field and a defender in his heart.
"He's a hero because...he had other things in life he could have done, but he decided to go and protect us," said Clarence Philips, the soldier's friend.
Sergeant Ware was born in Liberia. His family fled the war-torn nation when he was 12 years old. He attended Corliss High School, Kennedy King College and Chicago State University.
Relatives say the September 11th terrorist attacks were on his mind when he joined the National Guard in 2003.
Ware was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb tore apart his convoy the week before Christmas.
He phoned home the day before he died.
"He spoke to each one of us, and we didn't know that, that was our bye. It's very special. It was like a gift," said the soldier's Anna Ware.
"The family of Illinois sends our profound sympathy to the family of Sgt. Albert Ware. He's the best of the best," said Gov. Pat Quinn.
"He lived the warrior's ethos. He always put the mission first. Never accepted defeat, never quit, never left a fallen comrade. He just lived the Army values, just a great American hero," said Larry McCarty, Ft. Bragg chaplain.
Albert Ware is survived by a wife and three children. At his homegoing Saturday, Ware's sister danced as a tribute.
"My brother always told me that I could be anything I put my mind to. He said, 'You'll be the best dancer in the world, if you put your mind to it.' So, I believe I owed it to him," said the soldier's sister Ciatta Ware.
The Washington Post's Web site chronicles each and every military death in its "Faces of the Fallen" series.
The Post says, including Sergeant Ware, 204 service men and women from Illinois have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began.