Washington, DC -- Today, Thornton resident Butch Buccelli, will attend the Medal of Honor ceremony honoring his brother-in-law, Leslie Sabo, who fought and died in 1970 in Vietnam. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) was instrumental in making sure Butch and his wife, Debbie, who are small business owners, could attend this special ceremony.
Leslie H. Sabo, Jr. was a Pennsylvania Army specialist killed in combat in 1970 in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. He is receiving the medal posthumously for his actions when his platoon was ambushed by North Vietnamese forces.
"Leslie Sabo was a true patriot and hero for our nation," said Perlmutter. "I can't express my admiration, respect and thanks enough to the members of our military for their selfless service to our country - then and now. I'm proud my office was able to help Leslie's family attend this special ceremony to honor his courage, dedication and service to the United States of America."
"Les was like a big brother to me from the first day he came into our lives," noted Butch Buccelli in a recent email to Perlmutter's office. "When we learned what he did on May 10, 1970 it didn't surprise me at all, that's the way he was towards everyone. He always felt like he had to help anyone that needed it, he put everyone above himself. He taught me a lot about how to be compassionate, caring and trusting to everyone you meet. His heroism on that day simply demonstrated to me he stood for everything he preached."
In 1970 a recommendation and citation for the Medal of Honor were submitted by Leslie's commander, however the recommendation was lost in the Army archives for 40 years. Leslie's wife, Rosemary, started an inquiry into the Medal. Ultimately she was in contact with a veteran from Leslie's unit who rallied other members of the unit to assist with resurrecting the Medal of Honor citation. The group found the original recommendation packet, and through diligence, they worked with Army officials to re-open the recommendation. It took approximately seven to nine years to work its way through both Presidents Bush and Obama to finally award the medal.
Butch Buccelli, Rosemary Sabo-Brown's brother (Leslie's brother in law) served in Vietnam as well and he, along with other family members were invited to attend the Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House, but Butch and his wife Debbie didn't have the resources to attend.
Perlmutter was contacted to see if he could help the family identify assistance that might be available to help them attend the ceremony. The Colorado Veterans community provided overwhelming support to the family. The Huey 091 Foundation www.huey091foundation.org/ helped with the airfare. (The Huey 091 was the last of the Huey's flown in Vietnam and made a cross-country trip to Washington DC in 2004 and is now at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.) Additionally a local businessman from a high tech company in Colorado assisted with the hotel, and different individuals and local VFW groups helped with incidentals such as food, ground transportation, etc.