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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A tragic anniversary

     July 21, 1970 -- It's one of the saddest days in Buffalo Bills' history, as offensive lineman Bob Kalsu dies when he is hit by mortar fire in Vietnam's Ashua Valley.

     Kalsu was an All-American at Oklahoma and was an eighth-round draft choice of the Bills in 1968. He became a regular in the Bills' lineup in his rookie season, and was voted the team's top first-year player. Kalsu was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy year for the Bills, who finished with the worst record in the league that season. 

    He was required to satisfy his ROTC obligation after college and thus left the Bills to become an officer in the U.S. Army on March 29, 1969. Kalsu arrived in Vietnam in November, 1969, and was killed in action about eight months later. He was the only NFL player to die in combat in Vietnam.

     His wife Jan gave birth to a son, James Robert Kalsu Jr., on July 23. A few hours later, she was told of the death of her husband.

     Kalsu's name was added to the Bills' Wall of Fame in 2000.

--- Budd Bailey


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.