Ernest Hemingway is unquestionably the most famous OPRFHS veteran, but the school has produced a number of alumni who have made distinctive contributions to war efforts and lived exemplary lives upon their return.
Hemingway, who graduated in 1917, actually did not serve as a soldier in WWI. After being turned away by the Army because of poor eyesight, he volunteered at the age of 18 to drive ambulances for the American Red Cross in Italy, where he was seriously injured. His experiences informed some of his greatest work, including A Farewell to Arms and The Son Also Rises. He was a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, which inspired his 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, and covered WWII for Collier’s. According to many scholars, Hemingway viewed armed conflict as the most important experience of the 20th Century.
Alan and Paul Winslow, sons of prominent Chicago businessman William Herman Winslow, served as daring aviators in WWI. Their River Forest home was one of the first in our area to be designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Alan Winslow, who graduated in 1915, flew with famed flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker and his Hat-in-the-Ring (94th) Squadron in France. He and Lt. Douglas Campbell achieved the first official aerial combat victories of the war by shooting down two German planes, for which Winslow received the French Croix de Guerre. While in a dog fight on July 31, 1918, his plane was shot down and he was taken prisoner. Following the war, he entered diplomatic service and served as an executive with Pan-American Airways.
Alan’s older brother, Paul Winslow, enlisted with the British aviation service before transferring to the American aerial headquarters in London. During his first patrol, he was separated from his squadron during a storm and found himself behind enemy lines and under attack by German planes. Running short of petrol, he switched on the engine’s emergency tank, which gave him an additional 10 minutes, but crashed into an air hangar. Following his service, he returned to Chicago to work in his father’s business.
Two other local brothers, Albert and Edward Mampre, achieved renown during WWII. Albert Mampre, Class of 1940, served as a staff sergeant in charge of medics with the historic 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, commonly referred to as Easy Company. The company was made famous in the acclaimed 2001 HBO-TV series Band of Brothers. Albert received a Purple Heart among many other medals. Following the war, he dedicated his life to fundraising for veterans and visiting critically wounded military personnel at national military hospitals. He also was in great demand as a speaker all over the world.
Edward Mampre, Class of 1942, had two brushes with celebrity during the war. He served as a pilot under the command of actor Jimmy Stewart and, through Stewart, met Bing Crosby during one of the crooner’s USO tours in England. Ed flew many missions over the English Channel in the B-24 “Liberator,” a key weapon of the U.S.’s strategic bombing campaign. After the war, Ed became a mainstay in the Oak Park community, serving for several years as PTA president at Lincoln School, a Boy Scout leader, Little League coach and an official for OPRFHS track meets. He and his wife Joyce lived in the same home for 63 years and raised four children who also attended OPRFHS. According to his daughter, Pam Scully, Ed was affectionately known as the “Mayor of South Oak Park” for his extensive community involvement. In 2008, he was selected for one of the first Honor Flights from Chicago to Washington, D.C.—and was joined by his grandson, Major Aaron Scully, an Army pilot. Ed celebrated his 99th birthday in May.
Frank Shiffner left OPRFHS in 1943, after his sophomore year, to enlist in the Air Corps rather than wait to be drafted into the Army. He was stationed as an airplane mechanic in the recently constructed U.S. base in Puerto Rico. He survived a harrowing flight when a plane malfunction landed him in the Pacific Ocean, where he was finally rescued after seven hours. After the war, Frank returned to OPRFHS as a 22-year-old and got his diploma in 1948 before launching his own business, Carroll Tool, named for his wife of 68 years. Ed and Carol raised four children, all of whom are also OPRFHS graduates, in Carol’s childhood home at 617 N. Harvey. Frank officially retired only five years ago and, this July, his children celebrated his 97th birthday by treating him to a flight on a 1946 Stearman biplane, which he was able to briefly fly, under the observation of a commissioned pilot, in his original WWII uniform.
Connie Hernbrott, was an outstanding OPRFHS baseball player, covering center field for the 1942 State Championship team before enlisting in the war the next year, a month after graduating. Stationed with the 491st military police, he was engaged in battles and campaigns in northern France and guarded German POWs on ships traversing the ocean from England to the U.S. After the war, he was invited to try out for the Chicago Cubs and was offered a roster spot with the farm team in Catalina, CA but ultimately decided to come back to Oak Park and work for the post office. A letter carrier, primarily in north Oak Park, Connie turned down a number of promotions so he could watch families growing along his route and spend his afternoons coaching youth baseball. He coached several local athletic standouts, including many of the players who went on to play for the OPRFHS 1981 State Championship baseball team. Connie’s son Michael Hernbrott is a chip off the old block in many ways—he served as a Marine from 1982 to 1986 and has been the head coach for Illinois State University’s hockey team for the past decade.
John Register, Class of 1983 and an OPRFHS Tradition of Excellence Award recipient, enlisted in the Army after graduating from the University of Arkansas, partially as a means of continuing the athletic success he achieved in high school and college. He served for six years, including active duty during the Persian Gulf War. During his service, Register participated in the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, winning nine gold medals in the Armed Services Competition and two World Military Championships. However, in May, 1994, while training for the 1996 Olympic Games, he suffered a devastating injury that necessitated the amputation of his left leg. Refusing to let this setback keep him down, after only 18 months of rehabilitation, he competed as a swimmer in the 1996 U.S. Paralympics in Atlanta, GA and as a runner and long jumper in the 2000 games in Sydney, where he set an American record in the long jump. In 2003, he founded the USOC Paralympic Military Program, which uses sports to enhance the recovery of wounded service members. Today, Register remains actively involved with veterans and serves as an inspirational speaker for corporations and organizations around the country.