Kalsu's name (third row, middle) on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
|Birth name||James Robert Kalsu|
|Born||April 13, 1945|
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|Died||July 21, 1970 (aged 25)|
Thua Thien, South Vietnam
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1968-1970|
|Unit||101st Airborne Division|
|Awards|| Bronze Star|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||235 lb (107 kg)|
|High school:||Del City (Del City, Oklahoma)|
|NFL Draft:||1968 / Round: 8 / Pick: 199|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
James Robert Kalsu (April 13, 1945 - July 21, 1970) was an All-American tackle at the University of Oklahoma and an eighth-round selection in the 1968 NFL/AFL draft by the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League. He later joined the U.S. Army as an officer and was killed in the Vietnam War. He was the last NFL player to be killed serving as a soldier in a war until 2004, when Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. Earlier, Al Blozis formerly of the New York Football Giants was killed in action in World War II.
Kalsu was a starting guard for the Bills in 1968. He played the entire season and was the Bills' team rookie-of-the-year. Following the 1968 season, to satisfy his Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) obligation, he entered the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and arrived in South Vietnam in November 1969 as part of the 101st Airborne Division. He was killed in action on July 21, 1970, when his unit came under enemy mortar fire at FSB Ripcord near the A Shau Valley. His family has declined to talk in detail about the circumstances surrounding his death.
When he had left for South Vietnam, Kalsu had to say goodbye to his wife, Jan, and his daughter Jill. On July 23, 1970, two days after his death, Jan Kalsu gave birth to his son, James Robert Kalsu Jr, at the Kalsu home in Oklahoma City. Kalsu's wife was informed that he had died only hours later. Kalsu and former Cleveland Brown Don Steinbrunner were the only professional football players to be killed in action during the Vietnam War.