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How a torn dollar bill kept twins and their friend together following WW II

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - These twins have a tale of their trio once formed and the dollar bill they've shared since World War II.

“We'd take a dollar bill and everybody would sign it and tear it into three pieces,” says Mike Wilke, World War II veteran. “Put it in your pocket and we'd celebrate and put it together when we all come back.”

The date was August 19, 1944 when Mike and Mel Wilke were sitting in an officer's club with friend Utte Moellenhoff. They were about to be sent their separate ways – the Wilke brothers to the Pacific theatre, while Utte being shipped off to Africa.

But their mission as brothers and friends was clear: to reunite that torn dollar bill every year.

“I thought August 14 was a national holiday,” says Jean Lang, Mike Wilke’s daughter. “I thought everybody celebrated August 14, not knowing it was just my family.”

After World War II ended, Mike, Mel, and Utte would gather together with their wives each year for a fancy dinner.

“We'd go out and drink and just be merry,” says Marilyn Moellenhoff. “It was a great, great threesome, believe me.”

“August the 14th we were out, nothing separated us. Year after year after year,” says Wilke.

At the end of each meal every August 14, they'd flip a coin and the winner would get to hold onto the dollar and plan the next year's get together.

Utte passed away 10 years ago. Mike, now 93, moved to Delmar Gardens and twin brother Mel to Bethesda Southgate. But they still meet every August 14.

“Like a good luck piece or charm or some kind,” says Wilke. “I don't know what you want to call it. But we always wanted it and flipped for it every year.”

Now 72 years later, it's still a heads or tails decision on who gets the bill that kept Mike, Mel, and Utte together.