KIA May 10, 1970
Army SP4 Leslie Sabo, Jr. was killed May 10, 1970, in Cambodia when his patrol was attacked by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), who also killed 7 of Sabo’s fellow soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division. This day would come to be known as the “Mother’s Day ambush”. Sabo’s platoon was on a mission to engage NVA troops that had used the area as a staging ground for the Tet Offensive and other attacks. They were ambushed by 150 NVA troops hidden in the jungle, which had caught the American force in the open and unprepared. When an enemy grenade landed near a wounded comrade, Sabo ran from a small tree that had been providing him cover and used his body to shield the soldier from the blast as he tossed the grenade out of the way. Afterward, and even though he had been wounded by automatic weapons fire, Sabo began to crawl toward an enemy bunker, its machine guns blazing. He grabbed a grenade, pulled the pin and held it until the last possible moment, knowing he could silence the bunker. His actions saved his comrades, who meant more to him than his own life.
42 years after his selfless act of heroism, SP4 Leslie H. Sabo Jr. posthumously received the Medal of Honor. “This Medal of Honor is bestowed on a single soldier for his singular courage,” President Obama said in a White House ceremony. Leslie’s commander nominated him for the Medal of Honor in 1970, but the accounts of Leslie’s actions and sacrifice were lost for several decades. The Sabo family was originally from Hungary, but after the death of his 1 year old brother in a WWII bombing, they emigrated to the U.S. Leslie met his future wife, Rose Mary Brown, at a high school football game and they married in 1969. When Leslie received his draft notice, Rose begged him to ignore it, but Leslie refused. His family had fled communism and it was his duty to stand against it, to fight for the country that had given them so much. Rose said, “Every day I look at his picture and I go, ‘You’re finally getting what’s due to you.’”
SP4 Leslie Sabo, Jr. was 22 years old from Elwood City, Pennsylvania.
Original portrait was presented November 11, 2014, to his wife and brother at Lincoln High School in Ellwood City, PA, Leslie’s alma mater.DONATE in memory of