Bills salute former player who died serving his country

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The colors red, white and blue mean a lot to the Kalsu family. They’re the colors for the Buffalo Bills – the team Bob Kalsu played for – and they represent the nation Kalsu was fighting for when he died during the Vietnam War.

“It’s really takes you back that 46 years later he’s still remembered the way he is,” said Bob Kalsu Jr.

During the Bills vs. Jaguars pregame, the team gave a Salute to Service members, taking time to honor those who served during Vietnam.

“During the Vietnam war, a member of the Buffalo Bills family answered the call of duty,” the announcer said over New Era Field.

Kalsu wore two uniforms in his lifetime.  One, for the United States Army.

That Buffalo Bills member – Bob Kalsu.

“Some of the better things I take pride in was how he served in Vietnam,” said Bob Jr.

And the other for the Buffalo Bills.  Kalsu was a starting guard for the Buffalo Bills, coming to the team as an 8th round draft pick out of Oklahoma.

“You always hear about how great of an athlete he was,” said Bob Jr.

It’s a surreal moment for Bob Jr. to be standing on the sidelines Sunday; seeing the place where his dad started his football career.

“It’s big shoes to fill they’re big shoes to fill.”

And it’s an emotional moment hearing people cheer for a man they never met and who Bob Jr. never met either.

“When I was younger, not having a dad and not growing up with him you wonder what you missed out on.”

Bob Jr. was born on July 23rd, a day and a half after his dad was killed in action in Vietnam.

“It’s one way for me because I never knew my father to kind of build a legacy for my kids who never knew him in remembrance of him.”

Despite being a NFL starter back home, when he was in his fatigues, he was someone else, known by many as Lt. Kalsu, always working to embrace the Army values.

“He never asked the men to do anything he wouldn’t do for them,” said Bob Jr. “That’s what I take pride in. He never thought of himself as any better than anyone else serving in Vietnam.”

Bob Jr. says hearing those stories about his dad is something he really enjoys.

“They always speak about what a great man he was,” said Bob Jr. “My mom always told me you’re a Kalsu – your name means something so you better live up to the name.”

And wearing a jersey bearing that name, Bob Jr. stands on sidelines and on the 50 yardline of the field where his dad’s football legacy was just beginning when he answered the call of duty.

“It’s emotional every time,” said Kalsu.

And he does something his dad never had the chance to do – receive a game ball for a game he will always remember while thousands honor those who they’ll never forget.

“In one regard, it set a high standard for me to shoot for. In the other it’s a legacy that’s hard to live up to. But I’m very proud to be a Kalsu.”

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