So Others May Live

This week, a Vietnam veteran will posthumously receive the nation’s highest honor.

Spc. 4 Leslie H. Sabo, Jr. was a rifleman with the 101st Airborne Division when his platoon was ambushed on May 10, 1970 near the Se San River in eastern Cambodia.  The platoon was ambushed from all sides by a large enemy force, according to the Army, but Sabo charged the enemy position and killed several enemy soldiers. He drew fire away from friendly soldiers and forced the enemy to retreat by assaulting an enemy flanking force. While securing a resupply of ammunition, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Sabo threw the grenade and shielded a wounded soldier with his own body. He was wounded by the blast, but saved the life of the other soldier. Seriously injured by automatic weapons fire, he continued to fight. Sabo managed to crawl to an enemy emplacement and toss a grenade into the bunker. The blast silenced the enemy fire, but also killed Sabo. He is credited with saving the lives of several of his comrades in Company B, 506th Infantry.

Sabo’s unit nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but the paperwork was lost until Tony Mabb came across a file on Sabo while on a research trip to the National Archives military repository in College Park, Md. Mabb is a Vietnam veteran of the 101st Airborne Division and a writer for the “Screaming Eagle” association magazine. Mabb contacted his congresswoman, who recommended DOD reconsider a medal of valor for Sabo. Mabb also made contact with Sabo’s widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, who lives in New Castle, Pa.

The Sabo family has been invited to the White House for the Medal of Honor ceremony, scheduled for May 16.

“The Leslie I know would give his life to anybody,” Sabo’s widow told Soldiers magazine. “He would. He would give you the shirt off his back. That’s the kind of man he was.”

Sabo’s photo and story, along with those of the other 58,282 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, will be included in the Education Center at The Wall. It will be a place where our military heroes’ stories and sacrifice will be honored. Many Americans weren’t alive during the Vietnam War and we must do more to educate current and future generations about the war these heroes fought and also the lives they lived. They fought for us and now we must do our part to ensure they are never forgotten.