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October 1, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Ellwood City dedicates monument to Medal of Honor recipient Leslie H. Sabo

NEW CASTLE — About 200 people eagerly awaited yesterday’s unveiling of a memorial that was 42 years in the making.

When the moment came to reveal the Sgt. Leslie H. Sabo monument at Legion Park in Ellwood City, some murmured, “That’s beautiful.”

The moving ceremony honoring the Medal of Honor winner and borough native was all about honor, pride and duty.

Sabo, 22, was killed in combat May 10, 1970, in Cambodia. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama presented Sabo’s widow, Rosemary Sabo-Brown of Hickory Township, with the medal posthumously for bravery he exhibited in battle at the time of his death. Sabo’s actions were credited with saving the lives of several of his fellow soldiers. He was serving as a rifleman in Company D, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.

Wiping away tears, Sabo-Brown recalled the day she met her future husband, and the day she knew her life would never be the same.

When she heard the news of his death, “My whole world stopped turning,” Sabo-Brown said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

About halfway through yesterday’s dedication, there was a flyover of two planes from Chapter 857 of the Zelienople Experimental Aircraft Association. The ceremony also included music from the Lincoln High School band and Ellwood Area Civic Chorale, and an honor guard, which fired three volleys.

“This award is to rare,” Samuel Teolis said during opening remarks. Teolis is chairman of the committee formed by Robert Morabito, commander of Ellwood City Legion Post 157 and committee co-chairman, that organized efforts and solicited donations to erect the memorial. Cast in bronze, it includes the 2,000-word Medal of Honor citation and the names of seven others who lost their lives with Sabo that day.

“He was a true hero who sacrificed his life to save the lives of his comrades,” borough Mayor Anthony Court noted.

Frank Aloi, superintendent of the Ellwood City Area School District and principal of Lincoln High School when Sabo graduated in 1966, remarked that Sabo is only the third Lawrence County resident to receive the Medal of Honor.

“Leslie was quiet, friendly and dependable, and he learned all these values while growing up in Ellwood City,” Aloi said. He added that on Nov. 20, Lincoln’s auditorium will be named Sabo Auditorium.

Speaking on behalf of Vietnam veterans, attorney Charles W. Garbett offered a heartfelt, “I hope the tears of grief have turned into tears of pride and joy.”

Sabo’s brother, George Sabo, pointed out, “This is a happy occasion for the Sabo family. The grieving will never go away, but this is a permanent reminder that he was a hero, and that freedom is not free.”

Keynote speaker Capt. James Waybright, company commander of Bravo Company — of which Sabo was a member —  was joined by several others from Bravo.

“If Ellwood City is made up of the same stuff as Leslie Sabo, you have one whale of a city,” Waybright said. “To Leslie, we would say, rest in peace; we love you.”

(Would you like to purchase any photos from the accompanying gallery? CLICK HERE.)

 

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