Hometown Hero: The Van Sistine brothers

By WeAreGreenBay.com , Terry Kovarik | terry.kovarik@wearegreenbay.com

Published 10/18 2013 06:09PM

Updated 12/31 2013 06:38PM

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - For every veteran honored for service in battle, there are many others who filled vital support roles.

That includes the Van Sistine brothers from Green Bay.  From birth, twin brothers David and Donald Van Sistine did just about everything together.

"I think there's just something there between us that kept us together all the time through grade school, high school," David says."We went out for the same sports."

If someone got mad at us and wanted to fight us, they got two," Donald adds, "especially our older brother."

That included joining the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1945, just missing service in World War Two.

But the outbreak of the Korean War three-years later made their services needed.  For the first time, the twins were separated.

"I got drafted first," David says, "and I didn't check with the reserves and I just went into the army, that's all."

"A year later, they started taking married men, without children, Donald says, "I went back to the reserves and signed up with the reserves and the let me join the Navy."

But wartime service took both brothers far from each other and the battle lines.  David Van Sistine trained for intelligence services right in the middle of a potential Cold War battleground in Germany.

"We used to go," David says, "when we were on  alert, we were right on the active line, if there was an attack. We were on  alert 24-hours a day.  We used to have to go on alert in the middle of the night and set everything up."

Donald Van Sistine was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago.  Instead of machine accounting he was trained for the medical corps.  He ensured that those in combat had one less worry at home.

"I wasn't taking care of servicemen, he says, "I was taking care of the servicemen's people.  The wives and the kids.  I was in a pediatric clinic."

Eventually both brothers returned home...and took a long-awaited "Old Glory Honor Flight to Washington D.C.  An honor they learned is for all who've served.  Something they want other veterans to know.

"I like to let every serviceman know that you don't have to be in the front lines to get into this "Honor Flight," David says. "People just got to appreciate that these men gave up their time.  They had to leave their wives and were gone for awhile."

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