Upper Township’s Joseph Walters always knew there was something different about his father, Joe. And it wasn’t just that he was missing his left leg above the knee.

Despite the amputation, Joe had trained with the best judo experts in the world in Japan, and became a national champion in 1979.

“I remember in elementary school, we were playing baseball, and all of a sudden the game stopped. Everyone looked up,” Joseph said. “There was my dad wearing a 25-pound weight vest, hopping up the hill. I realized then, he isn’t like other dads.”

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His father had lost his leg in Vietnam on Sept. 11, 1968, said Joseph, a State Police sergeant. The date was a sad one in the Walters family, even before 2001.

Joe had never told anyone details about Vietnam. But after heart surgery a few years ago, he said he realized he had to start sharing his stories.

He had already been an Army paratrooper and graduated from college when he went to U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. At age 27, he led a platoon in Vietnam, in the field a month at a time.

The day he was shot in the kneecap and lost his leg, Joe’s platoon was ambushed and every one of the 23 members was injured or killed, he said.

Joseph has written a book about his father’s life in Vietnam and competitive judo called “Strength in Numbers,” which also pays tribute to the two men who died and another who was paralyzed while trying to save Joe that day. It is available at amazon.com.

Joe, 72, a retired Dennis Township teacher who lives in Upper Township, still trains and teaches the sport. Currently, he is teaching for a week at a YMCA judo camp in Port Jervis, N.Y.

Local rappers on TV

Kevin “Ke-Real” Walker, of Atlantic City; and Gaetano “Tommy Gunnz” Piccirilli, of Galloway Township, who make up the rap group “KTBORDERLINE,” will perform on PHL Channel 17’s Eye Opener morning show the week of Aug. 19, said Robert Williams of TMarquise Entertainment in Absecon.

Their video, “Fresh in the Club,” has more than 2.2 million views on YouTube, and a website where people can post pictures of themselves, at freshintheclub.com. The song has been moving up the charts for the past three months, and was No. 4 on the Urban Top-50 charts Aug. 1.

Eye Opener is on from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday to Friday.

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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