Know Your Military

Steelers Honor World War II Veteran Brothers at Home Opener

Sept. 16, 2019 | BY David Vergun

Two brothers who served in the Army during World War II were honored during the home opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Seattle Seahawks with the ATI Salute to Heroes Award.

Former Cpl. Theodore "Ted" Joseph Sikora, 99, served in the Battle of the Bulge in France in 1944 and 1945. Former Sgt. Ed Sikora, 95, served in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1943 and later in the Pacific theater of operations.

Two elderly men stand on a football field holding yellow banners; they are wearing caps with the words “World War II veteran.” In the background, the bleachers are filled with spectators; above the crowd, the men can be seen on a giant video screen. Between the elderly men stands in younger man wearing an Army uniform.
Honored Vets
Theodore “Ted” Sikora, left, and Edward “Ed” Sikora, right. are honored by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the ATI Salute to Heroes Award at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Sept. 15, 2019. The brothers are veterans of World War II. With them is Ted’s grandson-in-law, Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Vollstedt, center.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith
VIRIN: 190915-A-BG398-002

The brothers expressed thanks for the tribute. "We're not used to this much recognition, and I'm very grateful," said Ted Sikora.

Ed Sikora said he was proud to serve. "I cherished the opportunity to serve my country," he said.

Although they are natives of Washington, Pennsylvania, both now live in the Pittsburgh area. 

Ted Sikora was a crew member on a Curtiss C-46 Commando and Douglas C-47 Skytrain as a member of the 8th Army Air Force. Those transport aircraft dropped much-needed supplies to the besieged American soldiers.

Historic photo of a manan in a U.S. Army uniform walking down a street.
Ted Sikora
Ted Sikora takes some time to relax in Paris.
Photo By: Courtesy of Ted Sikora
VIRIN: 450222-O-ZZ999-001C
An old photo shows a young man with a broad smile dressed in an old-fashioned pilot’s uniform and goggles.
Cadet's Smile
A historic photo of Ted Sikora as a cadet shows him dressed in a flight uniform with a white ascot, black jacket, headgear and goggles.
Photo By: Courtesy of Ted Sikora
VIRIN: 440222-O-ZZ999-001C
Man in an Army uniform smiles as he stands next to a small child, who is wearing a hat and coat
Uncle and Nephew
Ted Sikora visits with his nephew when he is home on furlough during World War II.
Photo By: Courtesy Ted Sikora
VIRIN: 450222-O-ZZ999-002C

He was stationed in England on D‐Day — June 6, 1944 — and remembers having trouble sleeping because of the noise from the airplanes taking off for France. 

He also remembers planes returning damaged and on fire. He said he witnessed a lot of things he will never forget, and that he doesn't really like to talk about.

After the war, Ted Sikora worked as a machinist. Now, he enjoys working out and taking Zumba classes.

Two soldiers pose for a photo with their rifles crossed
Army Brothers
Brothers Ed and Ted Sikora, both Army service members, pose for a photo with their rifles crossed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Photo By: Courtesy of Ed and Ted Sikora
VIRIN: 430222-O-ZZ999-007C

Ed Sikora was on the opposite side of the world, assigned to the 7th Infantry Division 502nd Anti Artillery Gun Battalion.

Although Ed Sikora wasn't in Oahu when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, he said the Americans were expecting another attack so they were on constant vigil.

In October 1944, he was attached to the 7th Infantry Division, which landed in the Philippines amid bombing by Japanese fighter planes. His unit was credited with downing six enemy planes.

A young man dressed in an Army uniform poses hold up his rifle for a photo.
Basic Training
In a historic photo, Ed Sikora poses during basic training at Camp Edwards, Mass.
Photo By: Courtesy of Ed Sikora
VIRIN: 440222-O-ZZ999-002C
Nine men dressed in military uniforms pose for a photo.
Battery Gun Crew
In a historic photo, Ed Sikora is pictured with his battery gun crew at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Photo By: Courtesy of Ed Sikora
VIRIN: 440222-O-ZZ999-004C
In a historic photo, a shirtless man poses for a photograph with a battery gun.
Molokai Point Crew
Ed Sikora poses with his battery gun crew at Molokai Point, Hawaii, in 1943.
Photo By: Courtesy of Ed Sikora
VIRIN: 430222-O-ZZ999-006C

In 1945, Ed Sikora participated in the Battle of Okinawa. His unit was credited with downing 33 Japanese aircraft.

Later in life, Ed Sikora taught high school and college, specializing in industrial arts. He later established a fruit orchard in California.

Ted Sikora's granddaughter, Alia Ann Vollstedt, is married to Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Vollstedt, who participated in the game's opening ceremony joint-service color guard. Daniel Vollstedt is with 2nd Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division, based in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. 

A former football player wearing a number 32 jersey shakes hands with a man in a military uniform as two elderly men look on.
Steelers’ Honor
Former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris shakes hands with Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Vollstedt, grandson-in-law of Ted Sikora. Sikora and his brother, Ed Sikora, were honored for their military service during World War II at a Steelers’ home game in Pittsburgh, Sept. 15, 2019.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith
VIRIN: 190915-A-BG398-005

Daniel Vollstedt said the two veterans have shared some of their stories with him over the years and were proud of his decision to enlist in the Army. 

John Wodarek, the Steelers' marketing manager, said the brothers were selected for the honor because Ted Sikora will turn 100 in March — which ties in with the National Football League's 100th-season anniversary being observed this year and next. 

Photograph of two elderly men wearing caps with the words “World War II Veteran.”
Veteran Brothers
Brothers Ed and Ted Sikora pose for a photo wearing World War II veteran caps in October 2018.
Photo By: Courtesy of Ed and Ted Sikora
VIRIN: 181022-O-ZZ999-001C