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First Name: Leslie

Last Name: Sabo

Birthplace: Kufstein, AT

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Halasz

Date of Birth: 22 February 1948

Date of Death: 10 May 1970

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1969-1970
Leslie Halasz Sabo, Jr.

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Leslie Halasz Sabo, Jr.
Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient - Vietnam

Leslie Halasz Sabo, Jr. was born in Kufstein, Austria, on 22 February 1948 to Elizabeth and Leslie Sabo, Sr., who had been members of an upper-class Hungarian family. With the post-World War II occupation of Hungary by the Soviet Union, Sabo's family lost their fortune, and so they moved to the United States in 1950 just after Sabo turned 2 years old. The family moved briefly to Youngstown, OH, and then to Ellwood City, PA, following a job at Blaw-Knox Corp. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1966 and briefly attended Youngstown State University before dropping out. Sabo worked for a short time at a steel mill. Friends and family described him as an affectionate and "kind-hearted hometown boy" who was easygoing and always in good humor.

He met Rose Mary Buccelli (the daughter of a World War II veteran and Silver Star Medal recipient) in 1967 at a high school football game and they had been dating for two years when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1969.

At the time Sabo was drafted, Rose Mary begged him to ignore the draft notice, but Sabo refused. He told her that his family was torn apart by communism in his native Hungary, and that he felt an obligation to fight against it. He said he understood the reason for the war.

Sabo was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1969 and sent to Fort Benning, GA, for basic combat training. While on leave, he married Rose Mary. They only had a month together before he went to war and that was the last time they saw each other.

Medal of Honor Action

On 10 May 1970, in Se San, Cambodia, Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo Jr. was serving with Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. On that day, he and his platoon were ambushed by a large enemy force. The heroic actions that earned him the Medal of Honor are described in the following citation that accompanied the Medal:


The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to

Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.
United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo Jr. distinguished himself by conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his own life while serving as a rifleman in Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division in Se San, Cambodia, on May 10, 1970. On that day, Specialist Four Sabo and his platoon were conducting a reconnaissance patrol when they were ambushed from all sides by a large enemy force. Without hesitation, Specialist Four Sabo charged an enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. Immediately thereafter, he assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat. In order to re-supply ammunition, he sprinted across an open field to a wounded comrade. As he began to reload, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Specialist Four Sabo picked it up, threw it, and shielded his comrade with his own body, thus absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving his comrade's life. Seriously wounded by the blast, Specialist Four Sabo nonetheless retained the initiative and then single-handedly charged an enemy bunker that had inflicted severe damage on the platoon, receiving several serious wounds from automatic weapons fire in the process. Now mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Specialist Four Sabo's life. His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members. Specialist Four Sabo's extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, and the United States Army.

Presentation of the Medal

Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, and her brother-in-law, George Sabo, were at the White House on Wednesday, 16 May 2012, to accept the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for Valor, posthumously awarded for Specialist Sabo's heroic actions on 10 May 1970.

"A piece of metal won't bring back my husband," Sabo-Brown said, "But my heart beams with pride for Leslie, because he's finally getting what's due to him. I will show it proudly for him for the rest of my life." Sabo-Brown says she plans to keep a replica of the Medal of Honor on display in her home, and the actual medal in a safe deposit box.


In an interview with Soldier's magazine, Sabo's widow said she knew something was wrong when she stopped receiving letters. "I felt it," she told the military magazine. "I didn't get a letter that whole week. From May 10 on I didn't get a letter. I said, 'Something happened. Something happened. He's not writing.' He was already dead."

On the day the Army told her about her husband's death, they said he'd been shot by a sniper while guarding an ammunition dump somewhere in Vietnam. The Army knows now that wasn't true: He was killed during an act of heroism.

There's one more person who has yet to be mentioned in many press accounts of this story, but who deserves some credit for the ceremony at the White House. If it wasn't for Alton Mabb, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who discovered Sabo's story 30 years after it happened, there probably wouldn't have been any ceremony.

In 1999, Mabb, a researcher for the 101st Airborne Division Association's magazine, found a box from the National Archives that contained stacks of papers detailing Sabo's actions and recommending him for the Medal of Honor. Mabb contacted members of Congress who worked to extend the statute of limitations for nominations for the Medal of Honor so Sabo's case could be reviewed (nominations for the Medal have to be made within three years after the incident).

After legislation was passed in 2008 that eliminated that hurdle, the Army's recommendation that Sabo should receive the Medal of Honor was forwarded to the White House in 2010. In April 2012, the White House announced that President Obama would posthumously award the Medal to Sabo's family.

The Army admits the reason the award is being given four decades later is because Sabo's story "more or less fell through the cracks."

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Campaign Stars
Vietnam Military Merit Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Palm
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Unit Awards

Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation


Combat Infantryman Badge

Other Awards

Sabo was posthumously promoted to the rank of Sergeant.


The name of Leslie Halasz Sabo, Jr. appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Panel 10W - Line 15.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Leslie Halasz Sabo, Jr. was killed in action in Vietnam on 10 May 1970. He is buried at the Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Ellwood City, Beaver County, PA.

Honoree ID: 2100   Created by: MHOH




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