Younger brothers tend to emulate their older siblings.
So when George, John, Michael, Paul and Andy Stanko were all drafted into World War II, Nick, the youngest brother of the group did the only thing he could.
"I told my dad, I says I want to go because all my brothers are gone, I wanted to go in so I enlisted in the Navy," he said. "He didn't mind, my mother was the one, she wanted her little baby to stay home."
Photo submitted for publication
The Stanko brothers from Warren County all served in World War II. From left are Andy, Nick, George, John, Paul and Mike Stanko at a gathering more than 20 years ago.
All six Stanko brothers served in WWII and miraculously all six returned home to Warren County.
George, the oldest brother, served with Michael in the infantry and was discharged after he was shot in the arm and hit by shrapnel in combat at Normandy.
Paul and Andy were stationed in Guam and served in the Air Force. John and Nick served in the Navy.
Nick was living in Sheffield in 1942 when he enlisted at the age of 19. He was the last of the brothers to leave home to serve his country, and the last one to come back.
He enlisted and went to Buffalo, N.Y., then to the U.S. Naval Armed Guard in Sampson, N.Y., for training.
"I ended up in Brooklyn, New York, in the Armed Guard center; that's where we all shipped out of when our ships were ready to go. They told us we'd be on these ships. I covered the North Atlantic and Pacific both. Quite an adventure," he said.
So what does a 19-year-old kid from Sheffield think of New York City during World War II?
"It's a wild place at that time, and believe me it was all Navy and Army personnel and everything ... the war was on," he said "Of course I came from the little town of Sheffield, going to the big city. I didn't know what to make of it. But it grew on me, I worked it out."
By the time he was discharged in 1946 Nick had seen Casablanca, Algiers, Naples, Manchester, Halifax, Iran, North Africa, Hawaii, Guam, Luzon and New Caledonia.
"We was gunners on merchant ships that went and carried the supplies over for the trips," he said. "There was 27 gunners and the gun crew all waited to stand and watch and protect the gunner ship."
Nick would be at sea between four to six months at a time, and estimated he was on a ship for a total of nearly three years during the war.
"The ships we sailed on they called them clay pigeons because when they get torpedoed it would hit it midship and would take eight minutes for it to go down," he said. "All the rest of us, none of us were wounded that I know of. I didn't see my brothers until the war was over, because as soon as they come home on leave I'd come home and they'd be gone. We didn't see each other from all the time that I was in the Navy until I got discharged, and that was 1946."
George was the only Stanko brother who was wounded, but the other brothers had no idea where they were, what they were doing, or if they were even alive.
But Nick and his older sister Mary Kunselman, who currently lives in California, had devised an ingenious method of communicating around the strict war time censors.
"I had a code, for example, if I was in Naples, Italy which I was, I would say "how is Joanne?" and she had these ten names down and she knew exactly where to tell my mother I was at," he said. "It just dawned on me, I don't know how it came about. She picked the names and then I wrote them down...this is the way we corresponded with each other."
Nick communicated with his sister in code throughout his time in the war and didn't see any of his older brothers for nearly four years until he was sent home. He was discharged in 1946, took a train from California to Chicago, and took the Pennsylvania Railroad right home to Warren.
"After we all got home and got discharged, I told my brothers, you guys come over, we're going over to a bar and we're gunna have a reunion," he said. "I didn't see my brothers until the war was over."
After the war, all the Stanko brothers stayed around Warren County and the Sheffield area, Nick said.
Since all his brothers have passed away and he is just a few weeks from turning 90 years old, Nick said he wants to commemorate their shared experience.
"I'm doing this for my brothers' sake and in memory of them," he said.