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Bengal buddies for life

INDEPENDENCE, Ky. – Staff Sgt. Darko Desancic and Tech Sgt. Evan List, now both with the 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., best friends since 6th grade, are still inseparable after nine years in the Air Force. Desancic and List went through middle school, high school, Military Entrance Processing Station, basic training, technical school and their first two duty stations together. (Courtesy photo)

INDEPENDENCE, Ky. – Staff Sgt. Darko Desancic and Tech Sgt. Evan List, now both with the 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., best friends since 6th grade, are still inseparable after nine years in the Air Force. Desancic and List went through middle school, high school, Military Entrance Processing Station, basic training, technical school and their first two duty stations together. (Courtesy photo)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Tech Sgt. Evan List and Staff Sgt. Darko Desancic, now with the 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., are die hard supporters of their home team, the Cincinnati Bengals. List was born and raised in Independence, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, while Desancic was born in Bosnia, but grew up in Independence. They have been best friends since they met in the sixth grade and with some luck, have been stationed together for their first nine years in the Air Force. (Courtesy photo)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Tech Sgt. Evan List and Staff Sgt. Darko Desancic, now with the 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., are die hard supporters of their home team, the Cincinnati Bengals. List was born and raised in Independence, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, while Desancic was born in Bosnia, but grew up in Independence. They have been best friends since they met in the sixth grade and with some luck, have been stationed together for their first nine years in the Air Force. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT-BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas- Staff Sgt. Darko Desancic and Tech Sgt. Evan List, now with the 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., graduated Air Force Basic Training together in 2006. Desancic and List are best friends from middle school and have been stationed together for their first two duty stations. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT-BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas- Staff Sgt. Darko Desancic and Tech Sgt. Evan List, now with the 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., graduated Air Force Basic Training together in 2006. Desancic and List are best friends from middle school and have been stationed together for their first two duty stations. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Seventeen years ago, a boy got on the bus for the first day of 6th grade. It didn't take long for someone to notice his foreign accent; on the bus, another boy decided to pick on him for it. Little did they know that day was the start of an enduring 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 in America, they moved around quite a bit before settling down in the town of 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," said List. "But then next day we started sitting next to each other on the bus and became real good friends."

Desancic knew little about the English language, but List helped him. Desancic and List started doing almost everything together.

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

Next thing they knew, they went through middle school, high school and even 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," said Desancic. "To me, speaking English is backwards compared to everything else."

Not only did Desancic learn from List but List also learned from Desancic.

"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," said List. "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."

That is how Desancic knew they would be the best of friends. Both of their families mixed well together even though they were from two different cultures with language barriers. They both looked after one another.

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.

They went to the recruiter together, looking for a change of scenery. After the recruiter, they travelled to the Military Entrance Processing Station together, chose the same job, and were in the same basic training flight and technical school. They even traded orders with classmates to go to their first duty station, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., together. From there, they both got follow-on orders to Peterson Air Force Base.

From childhood they were together, through their Air Force training, stationed at the same bases and have even lived around the same area. However, even though they were at same bases and squadrons, they were never on the same schedule or paths within Security Forces until recently. They now work in the same office.

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

Their time together, however, will not last long; 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," said Desancic. "Especially since both of our families are from Kentucky and then our first duty station was on the west coast."

List and Desancic keep their hometown very close to their hearts and are die-hard Cincinnati Bengals fans.

"Military family is needed, but more important is that me and Darko are our only support structure during football season," List said jokingly. "I think we are literally the only Bengal's fans outside of Cincinnati."

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 about the same time.

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