Spc. Leslie H. Sabo Jr., who died in 1970 while saving the lives of his fellow troops during the Vietnam War, has been cleared to receive a posthumous Medal of Honor after a decades-long wait by his family.
The White House announced Monday that President Obama would honor Sabo's heroic service with the military's highest honor at an upcoming ceremony.
Sabo died on May 10, 1970, while serving as a rifleman in Cambodia. That day, his platoon was ambushed by enemy forces and Sabo charged the enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers.
His actions drew fire away from his fellow soldiers and forced a retreat of enemy forces. A grenade later landed near where he was resupplying and he threw it away and shielded a wounded comrade with his body, saving his life.
He crawled toward the enemy encampment, threw a grenade into the bunker, which ended the enemy fire but also killed Sabo. He was 22.
A 2010 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story reported that Sabo had been recommended for the honor decades ago, but the citation ended up lost in the military bureaucracy until it resurfaced in 1999.
"This brave solider clearly distinguished himself through his courageous actions," Army Secretary John McHugh said in a letter quoted by the Post-Gazette. "The Army and our nation are forever grateful for his heroic service."
Even with a new recommendation from the Army, the approval process has dragged on, but Sabo’s widow, Rose Sabo-Brown, has remained optimistic.
"Two soldiers came to my house 40 years ago to tell me my husband was killed," she told the newspaper in 2010. "And now two soldiers are going to come to my house again and tell me that he has received the Medal of Honor."
That day has come.
She and Sabo's brother, George Sabo, will join Obama at the White House to commemorate his service to his country, the White House said.