President Obama presented the Medal of Honor Wednesday to Rose Sabo-Brown, widow of Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., U.S. Army, in the East Room of the White House. Sabo earned the decoration posthumously for his heroic actions in combat on May 10, 1970, while serving in eastern Cambodia in an expanded Vietnam war. That’s 42 years — or seven of the Pentagon’s six-year Future Years Defense Programs, laid end-to-end — ago.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will enshrine Sabo in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes on Thursday. Paperwork justifying his award languished in the National Archives for 30 years until a comrade stumbled upon it and began pushing for Sabo to be honored.
The Army says this is the “gallantry and intrepidity” Sabo displayed to earn the nation’s highest military award:
Members of B. Co. were ambushed by a large enemy force. While conducting a reconnaissance patrol, 22-year-old Sabo, charged an enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. Immediately thereafter, he assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat.
When a grenade landed nearby a wounded comrade, Sabo picked up the grenade threw it away while shielding his buddy with his own body, thus absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving the man’s life.
Seriously wounded by the blast, Sabo, nonetheless, retained the initiative and single- handedly charged an enemy bunker that had inflicted severe damage on the platoon. He received several serious wounds from withering automatic weapons fire in the process. Despite being mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Spc. 4 Sabo’s life.
Well done, Specialist Sabo.