US & Canada

Vietnam War soldier gets Medal of Honor 42 years later

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Media captionObama honours Vietnam soldier who died in combat

US President Barack Obama has awarded the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War soldier, four decades after his original recommendation was lost.

Specialist Leslie Sabo was recognised for his bravery when his platoon was ambushed in Cambodia in May 1970.

The Austrian-born rifleman's widow, Rose Mary, accepted the award at a ceremony in the White House East Room.

America's highest military honour has been awarded 3,458 times although fewer than 90 recipients are still living.

Spc Sabo, 22, saved the lives of a number of comrades even though he was severely wounded during the battle that ultimately killed him, President Obama said.

Lost paperwork

He ran across a clearing to an injured comrade for more ammunition as an enemy grenade landed nearby. Spc Sabo picked up the explosive and threw it back, using his own body to shield a wounded soldier, the citation added.

Image caption Spc Leslie Sabo's widow picked up the award at the White House

"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," the citation said .

"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."

Spc Sabo served in Company B of the 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.

Spc Sabo's commanders nominated him at the time for the Medal of Honor, but the request was not properly processed.

The campaign to honour him was led by another Vietnam veteran from the 101st Airborne Division, Alton Mabb.

He found Spc Sabo's paperwork in 1999 while researching at the National Archives and sought lawmakers' approval for the posthumous accolade.

Medal of Honor nominations must be made within three years of the incident, but lawmakers extended the statute of limitations for Spc Sabo's case.

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