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October 2, 2012

Ellwood City war hero honored in Harrisburg

NEW CASTLE — Ellwood City’s Leslie H. Sabo Jr. was honored Monday at a ceremony in the state capital’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Grove.

The ceremony unveiled a marker bearing the Vietnam War hero’s name in the grove behind the Capitol, which recognizes all of Pennsylvania’s Medal of Honor recipients.

Sabo posthumously received the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest military decoration — in May, nearly 42 years after his death during an ambush in Cambodia. The paperwork for Sabo’s medal was lost by the military, only to be rediscovered by a veteran doing research on Sabo’s unit.

“Sgt. Leslie Sabo repeatedly distinguished himself through courageous acts on the battlefield and ultimately gave his own life so that other American solders could live,” state Rep. Jaret Gibbons said. “He sacrificed himself fighting for freedom and the country he loved.”

On May 10, 1970, about 50 American troops including Sabo, a rifleman in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, were ambushed entering a clearing in Se San, Cambodia.

Sabo killed several enemy soldiers and used his body to shield a wounded soldier. He crawled toward an enemy bunker and threw a grenade that silenced the enemy’s guns. The blast killed the 22-year-old.

Participating in the Harrisburg ceremony were Sabo’s widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown; his brother and sister-in-law, George and Olga Sabo; sister-in law Kathleen Starkey; and other family and supporters from the Ellwood City area.

Following the ceremony, Gibbons presented a citation in the House of Representatives honoring Sabo’s actions.

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