'Band of Brothers' hero reflects on war and life

November 9, 2012 (LISLE, Ill.)

As we approach Veterans Day, an original member of that heroic company was honored in a moving ceremony in suburban Lisle.

Al Mampre, 90, is one of 19 of the "Band of Brothers" still alive. Mampre was 20 when he went to war and chose to jump out of airplanes.

"Oh I was a daredevil kind of guy and I thought that's where the action would be," Mampre said.

Mampre was right about that. He was a medic with the 101st Airborne assigned to company E. It was company E that would become the subject of the book and later the miniseries "Band of Brothers".

The boys fought in Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and all the other hells of Europe.

With two purple hearts and a bronze star, Mampre came home from the war, married and started a family. He went back to college and got a degree with a double major in psychology and sociology.

Mampre said that he has two secrets to life. Number one: don't do anything right and number two: don't die.

He found himself signing autographs Friday at a veterans' tribute at Navistar World headquarters, his post-war employer when it was International Harvester.

"I can't get over all the attention I get now. I think it's outrageous," Mampre said.

His action Friday was to sign the cab of an IH truck that hauled a Red Cross Clubmobile in World War II. "Al Mampre - original Band of Brothers," he wrote.

"I teasingly say, boy I don't know why we had 11 million people in the service," Mampre said. "Company E could have won the war by themselves based on the book. Some people don't appreciate that."

There are always some liberties in recounting history but Mampre knows the reality of losing lives, of saving some, being twice wounded, then patched up and thrown back into action. No amount of applause for that is too great.

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