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 back.
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
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 "touch."
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 did.
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