"I want you to go on with your life," he said. "I want you to marry again."
She broke down. "I don't want to marry again," she said. "I couldn't."
"Jan, I promise you, it'll be all right."
They had been married in the St. James Catholic Church in Oklahoma City, and a few weeks before he left, they went there together. Jan knelt before the altar. "If you need him more than I do," she prayed silently, "please give me a son to carry on his name."
Bob was gone before Thanksgiving. In one of her first letters to him, Jan gave Bob the good news: She was pregnant again.
If his letters didn't reveal what he was facing in Vietnam, Jan got a sense of it in May 1970 when, seven months pregnant and with Jill in tow, she met him in Hawaii for a week of R and R. Bob slept much of the time, and he was napping one day in their room when fireworks were set off by the pool. "He tore out of that bed frantic, looking for cover," Jan says, "terror and fear on his face. I got a glimpse of what he was living through."
At the end of the week they said goodbye at the airport. "Bob, please be careful," she said.
"You be careful," he said. "You're carrying our baby."
Jan returned to Oklahoma, Bob to Vietnam—and soon to Fire base Ripcord. For the last three weeks he was on that rock, it was under increasing siege, and his men saw him as one of them, a grunt with a silver bar working the trenches of Ripcord and never complaining. "He had a presence about him," says former corporal Renner. "He could have holed up in his bunker, giving orders on the radio. He was out there in the open with everybody else. He was always checking the men out, finding out how we were, seeing if we were doing what needed to be done. I got wounded on Ripcord, and he came down into the bunker. My hands were bandaged, and he asked me, 'You want to catch a chopper out of here?' " Renner saw that Kalsu had been hit in the shoulder. "I saw the bandage on him and saw he was staying. I said, 'No, I'm gonna stay.' "
The men of Battery A, trapped on that mountaintop, bonded like cave dwellers in some prehistoric war of the worlds. "Our language and behavior were pitiful," says Renner. "We behaved like junkyard dogs. If you wanted to fight or tear somebody else up, that's what you did. It was the tension. But I never heard Lieutenant Kalsu cuss. Not once. He was such a nice guy."