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A tribute to Bob Kalsu

Photo of Bills lineman Bob Kalsu

Bob Kalsu was a Buffalo Bill.  Bob Kalsu was a soldier.

Bob Kalsu was an All-American tackle at the University of Oklahoma in the 1960s.  When he graduated, he entered the AFL in 1968 as an eighth round pick of the Buffalo Bills.  Here he joined a dynamic offensive line that included future Hall of Fame guard Billy Shaw and AFL All-Star Stew Barber.  Kalsu started at guard that year and was named the Bills' Rookie of the Year. 

Following his rookie season he was required to fulfill his Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) obligation and he entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant.  He and his comrades were sent to Vietnam in November of 1969.  While his teammates were fighting for yards at the Rockpile and in other AFL cities, Kalsu was fighting for his life and the lives of his fellow servicemen in Southeast Asia. 

Kalsu was killed in action on July 21, 1970.

He left behind a daughter named Jill and a pregnant wife who gave birth to Kalsu's son two days after his death.  She named him James Robert Kalsu, Jr. a few hours before hearing of her husband's death.  Kalsu was the only recently active pro football  player to lose his life in Vietnam. 

In honor of Kalsu, a Buffalo-based Army Reserve Unit named their Forward Operating Base 'FOB Kalsu' in 2003 during the Iraq War.  You can see the Buffalo servicemen in the picture at the bottom of the post.  Kalsu is a member of the Wall of Fame and his high school named their football stadium after him.  NFL Films produced a documentary on Kalsu that was nominated for an Emmy.  The Pro Football Hall of Fame recognized Kalsu in 1970 with a plaque that reads:

"No one will ever know how great a football player Bob might have been, but we do know how great a man he was to give up his life for his country."

At the time of his death, the twenty-five year old Kalsu had a bright NFL career in front of him - but he gave his life to his country.  On this Memorial Day, let's remember Kalsu and all the other men and women who have given their time, their family, and their lives.

To learn more about Kalsu, visit the Virtual Wall, the Bills team site, or Sports Illustrated's Vault.

Buffalo-based servicemen stationed at FOB Kalsu in Iraq.
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