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Remembering Sgt. George Vucanovich
by Harry Spencer
Nov 19, 2012 | 3438 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This year’s celebration of Veterans’ Day recalled several memories of the vets with whom I served in the Army. Chief among them was the late George Vucanovich.

George was my first in-person acquaintance when I arrived at the University of Nevada in January of 1945. He and I were roommates for a short time at Lincoln Hall and we were both on basketball scholarships. Unbeknownst to us at the time was that we were also slated for spring football practice under coach Jim Aiken. When it came time for us to leave the university at the end of the semester, we were pretty sure we would never see each other again.

Since George was from Tonopah and I was from Florida, we were drafted into widely separated parts of the U.S. Infantry. It was unlikely that our paths would cross. Following basic training, I was scheduled to go to the European theater but upon joining the regular Army for a one-year stint, I was given a month’s leave and reassigned to the Pacific theater.

I arrived at Pusan, Korea and spent the first month or two walking guard duty. When a call went out for a typist to serve as company clerk for the headquarters on our base, I was quick to volunteer. At the HQ post, I was privy to many unique opportunities, which included the key to the camp gymnasium and the ability to form a base basketball team.

Several of the members of the squad that I can recall include Jim Gremmels, Steve Grundy and the fellow who was to become the most famous Clark County Sheriff, Ralph Lamb.

After we had been playing for a couple of weeks, I was coming out of the post PX when, of all persons, I bumped into George Vucanovich. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he had the best job in the Army. I asked him what that was and he replied that he was an MP. In turn, he noticed my stripes and inquired as to my position. I responded that I might have a job which was superior to his. When asked what that was, I told him I was the Intelligence sergeant for the Battalion. In addition, I was able to man the S-2 desk since there was no S-2 Lieutenant available. George asked me if there were any other vacancies at headquarters. I told him the S-3 sergeant was going home in a few weeks and that he should apply for the job. He asked me what he would have to do in that position and I responded that it was mainly to set the schedules for guard duty. He applied for the job, got it and joined our basketball team. So once again we were reunited on the court.

On the ship returning home, George and I were bunk mates and the two of us were responsible for putting out the ship’s daily paper. We both returned to the university in 1947 and completed our basketball careers playing in the Reno City League for Rissone’s Service Station.

Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident.
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