HomeNewsWWII Veteran, Affectionally Known as Harmonica Pete, Has Passed Away at 98

WWII Veteran, Affectionally Known as Harmonica Pete, Has Passed Away at 98

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

World War II veteran Pete DuPre has affectionally been called “Harmonica Pete” for playing the national anthem on his harmonic for sporting events throughout the years. Unfortunately, at the age of 98, he passed away.

DuPre’s daughter, Mary Ann DuPre, announced the news on Facebook Wednesday. According to her, he died “peacefully” on Tuesday with Mike, his son, at 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 was a veteran who served as a combat medic during WW II, the Greatest Generations Foundation states. He became a viral sensation performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the United States Women’s National Soccer Team match in 2019. Since then, he formed a special relationship with the team over the years. Upon learning about his passing, the USWNT official Twitter account expressed its sadness.

“We are saddened to hear that our dear friend and WWII veteran Pete DuPre passed away yesterday at the age of 98,” it wrote. “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’s performances weren’t limited to soccer games either. He played the national anthem at numerous sporting events, including the Minnesota Vikings, the Carolina Panthers, and the New York Knicks. Talking to Rochester First back in 2021, he said “This little piece of equipment has literally taken me all over the world,” when referring to the harmonica.

‘Harmonica Pete’ Reflects on Playing the National Anthem at the United States Women’s National Soccer Game

Pete DuPre wasn’t always as beloved and well-known as he is today and became a viral sensation back in 2019. Shortly after doing so, he appeared on Fox & Friends to talk about it, and even play for them.

DuPre told the hosts about his time as a medic and the faithful soccer game that made him famous. “Harmonica Pete” said in the war, on-field medics provided initial care to soldiers. Afterward, DuPre would receive them and provide full-time care. “We were on the other side of the Channel,” DuPre said. “Those patients were brought to us and our job was to start to put them back together again. Just that simple.”

His service further spurred his patriotism, which he illustrated on his harmonica by often playing the national anthem. He got his big break playing in the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team during their final match in New Jersey back in 2019. The crowd fell silent to showcase their respect, something DuPre greatly appreciated.

“It represents my country, my people, and, it’s a marvelous thing for me to be sitting in this position right now to amplify that,” he said. “To just get it across, that the U.S. is a great place and we are trying to maintain peace around the world.”