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Naval Park displays to honor Ralph Wilson, Bob Kalsu

The Naval and Military Park’s annual Salute to Services week begins Friday with a reception unveiling displays for the late Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. and player Bob Kalsu.

Wilson served in the U.S. Navy; Kalsu is the only NFL player to die while serving in the Vietnam War.

The ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park Hall of Honor across from the museum building. Friday’s unveiling is by invitation only with the exhibit open to the public on Saturday at 10 a.m.

For the display, the NFL Hall of Fame has loaned Wilson’s 13 military medals from World War II to the Naval Park and Wilson’s family also donated the uniform he wore in the Navy, the American flag he received from President Obama in 2012 and other military memorabilia.

Kalsu’s display will include a cover of Sports Illustrated, his Bills helmet and other items loaned by the family.

Scheduled to speak are Ed Rutkowski, president of the Buffalo Bills Alumni Foundation, and football historian Greg Trantor.

Salute to Services events will run every weekend through Aug. 16.

Wilson served in the Navy from 1941 to 1946 on mine sweepers in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He was awarded the Commendation Medal, given for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service.

Kalsu, an offensive lineman, was killed July 21, 1970, in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley after being hit by mortar fire, eight months into his tour of duty.

A 1968 draft pick, Kalsu had left the Bills to satisfy his ROTC obligation after college.

email: tdunne@buffnews.com

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