By U.S. ArmyMay 18, 2012
Good afternoon everyone. Today, we pay tribute in this famed Hall of Heroes to induct a national hero, who put saving the lives of his fellow man, his brothers, his comrades above his own. As one of the youngest ever to be awarded our Nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, Specialist 4 Leslie Sabo (SAH-Bo) Junior epitomized the very best of what we all strive to be. Selfless and intrepid, fearless yet resolute, this hero was a man of action who fought until his last dying breath.
We're honored to have distinguished guests this morning. Secretary Panetta, Secretary McHugh, SMA and Mrs. Chandler, LTG Robert Foley. And a special welcome to Specialist Sabo's family and friends. Ms. Rose Brown her children Jennifer and Steven -- and their families, as well as Rose's mother Frances and sister Kathleen. George Sabo and his wife Olga, and their three sons, Anthony, Steven and Michael with their families. Former members of the famed 506th Infantry Regiment -- to you and everyone else here today, thank you for honoring Specialist Sabo with your presence.
Yesterday, the esteemed Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to Specialist Sabo for his valorous actions 42 years ago in Se San, Cambodia. Drafted into the Army in April 1969, and 7 months later, a trained infantryman and a newlywed, he deployed with the 'Screaming Eagles' to Vietnam with the 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry in the elite 101st Airborne Division. Six months after he got to Vietnam, Specialist Sabo and his Band of Brothers in the Currahees were part of a massive offensive operation launched into Cambodia.
On May 10th, 1970, five days into the operation, Specialist Sabo and his fellow infantrymen in Bravo Company were sent on a reconnaissance mission. Deep into unfamiliar, enemy territory, the patrol was ambushed by a barrage of gunfire from multiple directions by an estimated 150 North Vietnamese Soldiers, who were hidden in the dense jungle.
And it was at this point that 22 year old Specialist Sabo, with less than one year in the Army, went into action and displayed what is truly uncommon valor. Without hesitation and without regard for himself, he charged headstrong into the teeth of the enemy position, killing several enemy in his lone assault. Not taking time to collect himself, he then dauntlessly engaged an enemy flanking force, drawing the fire away from his fellow Soldiers onto himself. His relentless efforts forced the element to retreat.
Specialist Sabo depleted his ammunition engaging the enemy in this intense firefight, but sensed opportunity and summoned more courage. Oblivious to the withering fire, he sprinted across an open field, totally exposed in broad daylight, to the aid of a wounded comrade.
Uncovered and in the open, a North Vietnamese Army Soldier threw a grenade at them, but Specialist Sabo fearlessly picked it up and threw it right back, shielding his wounded battle buddy with his own body. Despite severe shrapnel wounds to his back, Specialist Sabo was not done fighting. Defying the odds, he single-handedly launched his own assault on the enemy bunker that had inflicted massive damage on his platoon. In the charge, he sustained additional severe wounds from NVA automatic weapons fire.
Yet he still fought on -- crawling, bloodied and fatigued -- to the enemy emplacement. With one final act of defiance in the face of an unrelenting enemy, he pulled out the pin and threw his final grenade. Silence followed. Giving his last full measure of devotion, Specialist Sabo accomplished the mission. In the words of LT John Greene, his former platoon leader, "the respite Sabo purchased with his life enabled the first evacuation helicopter to get away safely and allowed follow-on troops to secure a landing zone."
In doing so, Specialist Sabo went above and beyond the call of duty, courageously making the ultimate sacrifice in his rendezvous with destiny. Seven other Soldiers were killed, and 28 were wounded in what became known as the Mothers Day Ambush. If it were not for Specialist Sabo's gallant actions, these figures would have been significantly higher.
With this Medal of Honor, a Warrior is held up to the American people as an example to all fellow men and women -- with the embodiment of our highest ideals displayed.
Our most solemn, professional obligation is to honor heroes like Specialist Sabo, by retelling these stories of valor and passing them on to future generations. He gave his life, so that his brothers who had fought side-by-side with him could live. And there is nothing more our Army or our Nation could ever ask of an American Soldier. Specialist Sabo is the epitome of a hero, and he will never be forgotten.
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