Two Pirate Veterans Chosen For No Boundaries Trip

Two Pirate alumni military veterans have been chosen for a trip that will help those wounded in combat gain camaraderie and confidence.

George Kalinowski ’67 and Roger Smith ’04 will head to the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Colorado in August thanks to the East Carolina Alumni Association and our partners at the non-profit No Boundaries.

“I am excited about being selected for the trip and at 71 hope to keep up with the younger guys,” says Kalinowski, who served as a sergeant in the Army during the Vietnam War on the Cambodia border from July 1969 to July 1970. He was awarded a Purple Heart due to numerous shrapnel wounds from an RPG round, as well as several other awards. He currently lives in California.

Smith says, “I’m not good in public places, but I like to be outdoors. I figured it was time to do something and get out.” He served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is dealing with several issues including PTSD, traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, stress-related migraines and others. Smith was born to military parents in California and grew up in Japan. His father’s last station brought him to Jacksonville, NC, where he graduated high school and has since returned after his service.

“I didn’t know things like this existed,” Smith said. “I’ve never done anything with Wounded Warriors; they get a lot of press. I’m not trying to be in the spotlight. I like that this is a small group. I think it’s a great opportunity to do things outside and be around guys and girls with similar experiences. I hope I can learn something.”

Kalinowski and Smith will get two of the ten spots available on this trip, which is offered twice a year to combat wounded veterans from around the country. (This is the first year No Boundaries is partnering with the East Carolina Alumni Association). All adaptive sporting activities at the NSCD – which include kayaking, zip lining, rock climbing, and more –  are tailored specifically for veterans’ needs and are supervised by trained staff. There is no cost to participants, since the No Boundaries program is completely covered by donations. Flights, transportation, lodging, meals, and activities are included.

Be sure to follow The Chantey and alumni association social media for more updates on this exciting journey!

Alumnus and WWII Veteran Nick Zuras ’43 to Conduct Coin Toss at Military Appreciation Game

ZurasYearbookAt 97, World War II veteran and former Pirate tailback Nick Zuras ’43 still remembers as much about tactics for college football as he does about D-Day.

This East Carolina alumnus will conduct the coin toss as part of military appreciation at Saturday’s football game against the University of South Florida. In a way, it will be his first play on the gridiron since he was a member of the undefeated 1941 team.

Nicknamed “the Greek,” Zuras helped lead his teammates in a classic single-wing offense to the Pirates’ only undefeated season to date before graduating in 1943. He then enlisted in the Navy and went on to storm Omaha Beach in 1944 and fight in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

ZurasCurrent“Of course I’m excited to come back to ECU,” Zuras said in a recent phone interview from his home in Annapolis, Maryland. “Yes indeed, I had lots of good memories at East Carolina. I got a great education.”

Zuras transferred to East Carolina from High Point College, now High Point University, where he actually played against the Pirates. After attending high school in the Washington, D.C. area, Zuras came to High Point on a football scholarship.

“High Point played ECU the year before I went there, and it was a very good game,” he said. “So I decided to go to East Carolina.”

Eventually, after sending a telegram to the college with his request, Zuras was able to transfer. “I was incredibly fortunate. East Carolina was a godsend,” he said.

Zuras majored in physical education with a minor in history. He also had a job in the dining hall to help pay for his education.

“I had some terrific professors who gave me a lot of encouragement. The team was well-schooled and well-coached. I met a lot of wonderful guys, and girls too,” he said.

ZurasWarDuring the war, Zuras became commander of a rocket boat with a seven-man crew. Crews like Zuras’ were sent ahead of the first wave of Allied troops landing in Normandy to try to destroy German defenses during D-Day, the largest amphibious assault in history.

At the end of the war, Zuras was stationed in Japan. Afterward, he went on to earn his master’s degree at the University of Maryland and taught history and coached football in high schools in Maryland and Virginia.

“ECU helped me become a good teacher,” Zuras said. He added that the education he received at East Carolina “can’t be beat.”

By Jackie Drake

ZurasTeamZuras, back row far left in #35, pictured with the 1941 Pirates.