Buddies for life: Airmen maintain friendship throughout AF careers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
Seventeen years ago, a young Darko Desancic got on a school bus for his first day of sixth grade. While on his way, it didn't take long for one boy to make fun of his foreign accent. Little did they know that the friendly banter would be the start of a lasting friendship.

Fast forward to 2015, Tech Sgt. Evan List and Staff Sgt. Darko Desancic, both from the 21st Security Forces Squadron, are still best friends.

As Bosnian refugees, Desancic and his family first fled to Germany and then came to America in 1997. Once there, they moved around quite a bit before settling down in Independence, Kentucky, in 1998.

The bus ride to school was where it all started. Born and raised in Kentucky, List noticed Desancic's Serbo-Croatian accent on the bus.

"He really didn't speak English that well and I made fun of him because of his funny accent," List said. "But the next day we started sitting next to each other on the bus and became real good friends."

Desancic knew only a little English, but List helped him. Both then started doing almost everything together.

"He told me he played soccer at a local church so I started playing (soccer) with them," Desancic said. "They just finally made me feel comfortable to get to know people."

The next thing they knew both went through middle school and high school and even had their first jobs together.

"If it wasn't for (List) I would still be in middle school because it was so hard for me to understand the English language," Desancic said. "To me, speaking English is backwards compared to everything else."

Although Desancic learned a lot from List, they both had the opportunity to learn from each other.

"I remember the first time I went over to his house. They were eating pizza, so I thought, 'Cool, I fit in here. I know how to eat pizza.' So, like an American, I picked it up and ate it," List said. "After noticing that I picked up the pizza to eat, they started speaking in their native language. It was only when they said 'Evan' when I noticed they were properly eating their pizza with a fork and knife."

At the end of high school, they both had scholarships to different schools. Desancic received a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati for soccer and List got one to the University of Louisville for art, but they decided to join the military instead.

Looking for a change of scenery, they went to the recruiter together. They traveled to the military entrance processing station together, chose the same job, and were put the same basic training flight and eventually the same technical school. They even traded orders with classmates to go to their first duty station at Beale Air Force Base, California. From there, they both got follow-on orders to Peterson AFB.

But even though they were at same bases and squadrons, they were never on the same schedule or paths within security forces until now.

"It took nine years. This is the first time we have ever worked together. We have never been in a flight together, or deployed. We had two completely different career paths until recently," Desancic said.

Their time together, however, will not last long as List was selected to attend officer training school.

"Being away from family and being with our military family has been easy for us because we have always had each other," Desancic said. "Especially since both of our families are from Kentucky and then our first duty station was on the West Coast."

Even their family life is identical. List and Desancic are both married, their wives are best friends and they are even expecting to have newborns around the same time.

"It was just awesome how everything just fell into place," List said. "We love the opportunities and the time the Air Force has provided us to be stationed together."