U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire (PA-04) today attended a ceremony at the White House where President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) for Specialist Leslie H. Sabo to his widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown. Sabo, who lived in Ellwood City, heroically fought to protect his fellow soldiers amidst a fierce firefight in Cambodia on May 10, 1970, during which he was fatally wounded.
"This award is long-overdue and a much-deserved for SPC Sabo and his family," Congressman Altmire said. "SPC Sabo bravely served his country, and for that, we will be forever grateful for the sacrifices he and his family have made for our country. "
On May 10, 1970, SPC Sabo and his platoon were ambushed by North Vietnamese soldiers. Amidst heavy fire, he ran to distribute ammunition to his fellow soldiers and was wounded as he threw himself over a wounded comrade to shield him from a grenade blast. Despite his wounds, Sabo fired and provided cover to medical evacuation helicopters as they retrieved wounded soldiers. Sabo was then killed by enemy fire.
SPC Sabo's MOH recommendation languished for decades until it was discovered in 1999 by Alton Mabb, a Vietnam veteran from Florida in the National Archives. Mabb contacted his Congresswoman, Corrine Brown, who later inserted language in the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization bill granting the president the authority to award Sabo the MOH, even though the three-year statute of limitations for his award had long expired.
After being contacted by Sabo's widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, Congressmen Altmire and Jim Gerlach (PA-06) urged DOD officials to complete consideration of this case as soon as possible. After repeated letters and phone calls, U.S. Secretary of the Army John McHugh finally contacted Congressman Altmire on March 31, 2010 to say to that U.S. Department of Defense was officially recommending that the President award Sabo the MOH.