President Obama awards Medal of Honor to soldier killed during Vietnam War

Sabo, a 22-year-old rifleman who served in the 101st Airborne Division, is being honored for his actions in combat on May 10, 1970, while in Se San, Cambodia.

Forty-two years ago, Sabo reacted to an ambush on his platoon by killing enemy soldiers and successfully drawing fire away from friendly forces, according to the White House. When a grenade landed nearby he threw it and shielded a fellow soldier with his body, absorbing most of the blast.

Despite his injuries and further wounds from automatic weapons fire, Sabo crawled to an enemy bunker and threw a grenade into it, silencing their fire. He was killed in the resulting explosion. 

"His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members," said a statement from the White House.

There have been 3,458 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor in action against an enemy force, since it was first given out in 1863. There are 81 living recipients of the award, including 54 from the Vietnam War.

Sabo's widow, Rose Mary Sabo Brown, and his brother, George Sabo, will attend the White House ceremony.

"A piece of metal won't bring back my husband," Sabo Brown told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "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, grew up in Ellwood City, Pa., where he met his would be-wife at a high-school football game. He proposed on June 13, 1968, but was drafted and sent to Ft. Benning, Ga. for training. Sabo was granted leave and the couple spent a month as newlyweds, reported the Tribune-Review.

“We were together for 31 days. I never saw him again,” Sabo Brown told the newspaper.

—This event has concluded.