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WWII veteran ‘Harmonica Pete’ DuPre dies at 98

Peter B. Dupre', a World War II Veteran, plays taps on his harmonica aboard the USS Arizona Memorial on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Dec. 5, 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tamara Vaughn)

Pete DuPre, a World War II veteran affectionally known as “Harmonica Pete” for playing the national anthem on his harmonica at many sporting events, has died. He was 98.

DuPre’s daughter, Mary Ann DuPre, announced on Facebook Wednesday that her father died “peacefully” on Tuesday “with his son Mike by his side.”

“It is with profound love that our family announces the passing of our dad, Pete DuPre’, known to many of you as ‘Harmonica Pete,'” Mary Ann DuPre wrote. “Dad lived an inspiring, incredible life and left an indelible mark on everyone who knew him. He will be sorely missed.”

DuPre served as a combat medic during World War II, according to the Greatest Generations Foundation, where DuPre served as an ambassador. The veteran became a viral sensation following his rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” before a U.S. women’s national soccer team match in 2019 in Harrison, New Jersey.

“We are saddened to hear that our dear friend and WWII veteran Pete DuPre passed away yesterday at the age of 98,” USWNT wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “To know Pete was to love him, and his service, support and friendship meant the world. Our thoughts and hearts go out to his family.”

DuPre formed a special relationship with the the U.S. women’s national soccer team through the years. He performed the national anthem ahead of a July 5 match between the United States and Mexico.

The official USWNT Twitter account thanked DuPre for his performance at the time and shared several clips of DuPre’s interactions with the team, including a video of players shaking his hand: “The Gals are here and so is Pete!”

“This is respect,” the U.S. Soccer Federation tweeted, alongside an additional video of the players signing a ball for DuPre. “Each and every player waited for their opportunity to come up to Pete post-game before getting on the bus, said hello, thanked him and signed his ball.”

He’s played the national anthem at various sporting events across the country, including games for the Minnesota Vikings, the Carolina Panthers and the New York Knicks.

“This little piece of equipment has literally taken me all over the world,” DuPre told local news outlet Rochester First about his harmonica in May 2021.

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