Forty-two years after he saved his fellow comrades in Vietnam, Army Specialist. Leslie H. Sabo Jr. of Elwood City, Pennsylvania, posthumously received the Medal Of Honor – the United States’ highest military accolade – from President Barack Obama.
Sabo was near the village of Se San in eastern Cambodia on May 10, 1970 when his unit was ambushed and nearly overrun by North Vietnamese forces. He charged from the rear, grabbed an enemy grenade and tossed it away, using his own body to shield a fellow soldier.
Sabo then advanced on an enemy bunker with a machine gun that was firing on the troops — and then, pulled the pin on his own grenade, knowing it would take his own life, but save that of his fellow countrymen.
From the report:
‘Les kept crawling, kept pulling himself along, closer to that bunker, even as the bullets hit the ground all around him.
‘It’s said he held that grenade and didn’t throw it until the last possible moment, knowing it would take his own life, but knowing he could silence that bunker.
‘And he did. He saved his comrades, who meant more to him than life’.
The attack in which Sabo sacrificed his life became known as the ‘Mother’s Day ambush’ and because the official records describing his bravery were lost, his family did not know the full extent of the 22-year-old service-man’s courage or circumstances of his death.