Former NFL Player, Vietnam War Hero Honored With Statue Unveiling At Del City High School

Former NFL player and University of Oklahoma alumnus Robert Kalsu is honored on National Vietnam War Veterans Day with the unveiling of a statue at Del City High School.

Friday, March 29th 2024, 5:45 pm

By: News 9, Colby Thelen


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Former NFL player and University of Oklahoma alumnus Robert Kalsu is honored on National Vietnam War Veterans Day with the unveiling of a statue at Del City High School.

There are many words to describe Kalsu, who many knew as Bob. Those words spoken on Friday included integrity, character, and hero. 

The Del City lineman went on to be a leader on the Sooner football team before being drafted by the Buffalo Bills. “That guy when he spoke the truth he meant it,” says Retired Captain John Keilty.

Keilty is the former commodore of Strategic Communications Wing ONE at Tinker Air Force Base and current Senior Naval Science Instructor at Del City High School Junior ROTC.

He remembers Kalsu most for the decision he made to serve on active duty in Vietnam after one season of pro football. He says the decision came from a promise he made to ROTC. “When he gave somebody his word, he gave them his word,” says Keilty.

Kalsu was killed in the Battle for Ripcord. He was the only active professional athlete that was killed in Vietnam.

His word as good as gold is now commemorated in bronze. “You’ve got to do something that is going to stand the duration of time,” says Matt Katcherside with MTM Recognition.

His company provided the statue, but Kalsu’s story provides the lessons that will be learned from it. “His legacy through commitment and character, integrity, discipline,” said Katcherside. “Those things that Bob stood for.”

The symbol bearing his image now stands in the stadium that bears his name. It was unveiled before his family, state and local leaders, coaches, veterans, and old friends.

“I played football with him,” said high school teammate, Rick Leavell. “I was in Vietnam the day he was killed.”

He was one of the many in attendance who knew the sacrifices he made well. “He was loyal to God, loyal to his country, and loyal to his friends,” says Leavell. “A great guy.”

There are so many words to describe his character, but it’s the symbol at Del City High School that speaks the most to all who see it.

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