A Welcome Hero
Never in my 35 years of reading SI have I been as touched as I
was by William Nack's article on Bob Kalsu (A Name on the Wall,
July 23). This should be required reading for today's overpaid,
spoiled and self-centered athletes. The key words can be found on
page 68, where Kalsu is quoted as saying, "I'm committed." He was
obviously committed to his teammates, his fellow soldiers, his
family and his country. If anybody's seeking the true definition
of the word hero, look no further than James Robert Kalsu.
BILL JOHNSON, Beaverton, Ore.
The Vietnam War claimed too many Bob Kalsus. The military let him
and his troops down by not sending additional support to Firebase
Ripcord. The brass decided that Firebase Ripcord and its
defenders were expendable. As a former Marine sergeant who served
in Vietnam, I would have followed Lieutenant Kalsu to hell and
LAWRENCE A. MOULD, Port Charlotte, Fla.
I met Kalsu on Firebase Ripcord the day before he was killed. The
captain who commanded the firebase's 105-mm battery asked if I
wanted to meet someone very special and walked me over to Kalsu,
with whom I shared the rank of lieutenant. There was only a brief
handshake, but I can testify that your description of the
devastating effect his death had on soldiers defending Firebase
Ripcord is no exaggeration.
BLAIR CASE, El Paso
August 26, 2001
You can keep Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. My heroes are the
Americans who fought for our great nation. I am 38 years old, and
I am very sad that Americans who are my age (or younger) usually
do not understand the sacrifices that these people made for us.
Kalsu and all of our veterans should never be forgotten.
J.D. TOMLINSON, Gainesville, Fla.
After reading this wonderfully written article, I became even
more disgusted with those who have forgotten men like Kalsu who
gave all for their country but have honored men like Muhammad Ali
for "heroically" refusing to fight. Shame on those who think that
a man's worth is measured in wins, losses and championships.
JAMES Y. YEH, West Windsor, N.J.
I'm a former NFL player from the 1950s and '60s--I played for the
Redskins, the Giants and the Packers--who spent '66 through '68 in
South Vietnam and Japan taking care of our wounded as an Army
doctor. My heart goes out to the family of Bob Kalsu. When I
visit the Wall, I will have another hero to know about and
EDWARD WIKE SUTTON, Fresno
I was a nonviolent protester for many years during the Vietnam
War. For nine years I have done volunteer work with severely
disabled Vietnam veterans: men with no arms, no legs, no faces
and worse--the truly forgotten. One by one, they have all passed
on. One by one, they all told me there was no honor and no glory
in that war. If they could have changed one thing in their lives,
it would have been to avoid serving in Vietnam. I wish that had
been true for Bob Kalsu. He deserved a shot at life. They all
DAVID BROMBERG, Harveys Lake, Pa.
Double Your Pleasure
My heart swelled with joy as I read the story of Ronde and Tiki
Barber (Play Mates, July 23). As a single mother who raised two
boys (my sons are the Barbers' age), I really appreciate all that
their mother, Geraldine, taught them and did for them. Her life
and mine are parallel.
SANDY FOGARTY, University Park, Fla.
There is no better teammate than an identical twin. The
relationship the Barbers share manifests itself in their
individual and teams' successes. It was encouraging to read about
young men who are grounded, talented and so closely connected.
Only an identical twin can fully understand the uniqueness of the
Barbers' relationship. Fortunately, I am an identical twin.
DANIEL (AND PETER) FEIGIN
New York City
I Feel Good
July 23, 2001...what an issue! A pro athlete who died for his
country, the Barber twins and a sportswriter who built a baseball
field for his community (THE LIFE OF REILLY). What's going on
with you guys--are you running out of stories on free agency,
greed, suspensions, drug rehab and mammoth egos?
LAWRENCE J. VOCKE, Napoleon, Ohio
First Lady of the WNBA
Thanks for the article on Jackie Stiles (Jackie O, July 23). She
makes it very easy to stress to our children the value of hard
work and education. I am grateful that the WNBA season takes
place during the summer; otherwise I would not be able to let our
kids stay up and watch Stiles's games.
LISA BERAN, Claflin, Kans.
When I was an 11-year-old boy growing up in Oklahoma, my heroes
were Bob Kalsu and his 1967 Sooners teammates. William Nack's
fine story brought back many memories of that wonderful season
and of the awful moment when I heard about Kalsu's death in
RICHARD LUTTRELL, Richardson, Texas