COMPANY OF HEROES                         ERIC POOLE
Posted:  Feb. 28, 2015

Company of Heroes: A Forgotten Medal of Honor and Bravo Company's War in VietnamOn May 10, 1970, in the height of the Tet Offensive, Army Specialist Leslie Sabo Jr., 22-years old, married only 30 days and on active duty for just 6 months, died as his patrol was ambushed near a remote border area of Cambodia. When an enemy grenade landed near a wounded comrade, Sabo used his body to shield the soldier from the blast as he tossed the grenade out of the way. Despite being mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and threw a grenade into the bunker. The explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Sabo's life. This attack by North Vietnamese troops killed seven of Sabo's fellow soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division and would come to be known as the "Mother's Day Ambush." Sabo's commanders nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but the request was somehow lost. A campaign to correct the oversight began in 1999, ultimately leading to legislation that eliminated the three-year time limit on awarding this medal.
Forty-two years after his selfless acts of heroism during the Vietnam War saved the lives of his fellow soldiers; Leslie H. Sabo Jr. posthumously received the Medal of Honor on May 16, 2012.
Using military records and interviews with surviving soldiers, journalist Eric Poole recreates the terror of combat amidst the jungles and rice paddies as Bravo Company 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne forged bonds of brotherhood in their battle for survival.Company of Heroes offers an insight into the incredible and harrowing experiences of just a small number of men from a single unit, deep in the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia.

This book titled Company of Heroes, is just that. It begins with a look into how the author became informed of this story and then the research into the life of Leslie Sabo Jr. who began his tour in Vietnam on November 13, 1969 with Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion 506 Infantry Regiment 101st Airborne Division. The author starts each chapter with a part of a letter that was written home by Sabo, and he goes into the back ground of not only Sabo and his family but as you meet each soldier you find out where they were from and a short back ground into their history. You also learn about the history of the 506. He then takes you the first days of when he arrives in Vietnam the men who is with him and how they go in to be replacements. He also gives a little back ground about the war that is not what you always saw or read about the actual truth that are young men were winning but the media was making it out like it was a losing cause. You then get to go with them out on patrol and get a sense of what it was like in the jungle with the weather and the equipment that they had to carry. How the guys that had been there for a while would look after the new ones. As the book goes along you also see what they go through when they lose a friend and the author does have all of their names in the front of the book. You can see how they become a close knit unit relying on each other to do their job for all of their lives depend on it. You begin to see how they all began to work together. You also get to see the type of person Sabo was before he entered the Army and the effect that he still had on people even after decades had past. This all leads up to a battle that takes place in Cambodia in May of 1970. The 101st along with a few other units were sent into Cambodia to take the battle directly to the enemy and their supply route the Hoe chi mien trail. They would have a few run ins but nothing serious until May 10, 1970 mothers while on patrol like most days the unit came into an area surrounded by trees and brush. They were not grouped together kind of a scattered line. When all of a sudden they were attacked liked they had never been attacked before. The first four lead men went down and the rest of the men followed returning fire but not really being able to see anything. The radio operator found out that he could not get a call out because he was being stepped on and another time had no single. As the battle continued some men were trying to get to the ones in front to pull them back to help them in first aid, but to no avail. There were many acts of valor that day, Donald Smith, attacked an enemy machine gun bunker with grenades that silenced the guns and his live. James Debrew and Ernie Moore were found the next day still next to the 60mm machine gun that they were in charge of. Larry Debrew ran into an open clearing to recuse a wounded soldier. But they said Leslie Sabo’s actions were outstanding because when he took assessment of the situation he made sure that they did not get out flacked and over run. 2nd Platoon took the brunt of the casualties nearly 100%, 3rd Platoon was still fighting. Sabo, would jump onto a wounded soldier to deflect a grenade, he charged a machine gun bunker and when help was finally there in the form of medivac he stepped out from his cover and directed fire to open up a landing zone for the wounded. He sacrificed his life for his comrades. The author then takes you through the lives of the ones who made it out and Sabo’s family. You jump to 1999 when a man by the name of Alton Mabb Jr. Came across Sergeant Sabo’s Army’s service record and noticed the thickness. Size matters” the Army does not waste paper”. This would be the beginning of the fight for Sergeant Sabo to be recognize through it would take a lot of work and changing the three year after the deed is done, but on May 16, 2012 he was awarded the Medal of Honor and the remaining men from his unit and that day were at the White House also and were also asked to stand and be recognized for their service. Truly a very moving and touching story, sad that the paper work got lost and took so long for him and all the men to be recognized. Being a son of a WWII AND Korean Veteran plus an Uncle who fought in Vietnam, this book gave all the men and their families much Honor in how their memory was shared with the reader. An outstanding book and outstanding men. A great book. I got this book from net galley.  I give this 5 Stars.

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