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Author Eric Poole revisits the Vietnam War his new book Company of Heroes, a moving close-up study of a small number of men in a single unit of the U.S. Army. The soldiers of Bravo Company 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, fought in the jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam and Cambodia. By combing through military records and interviewing the veterans, Poole captures the difficulties this unit faced, including the harrowing loss of Army Specialist Leslie Sabo, one of the military's forgotten heroes.
Twenty-two year old Leslie Sabo Jr., married only 30 days before shipping out had been on active duty for six months when his patrol was ambushed near a remote border area of Cambodia on May 10, 1970. When an enemy grenade landed near a wounded comrade, Sabo used his body to shield the soldier from the blast. Despite being mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and threw a grenade into the bunker, silencing the enemy fire. This attack by North Vietnamese troops also killed eight of Sabo's comrades 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. Leslie H. Sabo Jr. posthumously received the Medal of Honor on May 16, 2012. The fight to regain this honor for Sabo not only provided answers and closure for his family, it reunited the other members of his unit who had lost contact shortly after returning stateside.
Company of Heroes has received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, citing Poole's "portrayals of the gruesome work of war, depicting the maniacal seesaw between death at its most visceral and the simple pleasures of news from home."
Eric is an author, reporter and newspaper columnist living in Ellwood City, PA. He has received more than 30 regional, statewide, and national journalism awards for subjects ranging from sports to the environment and business to politics.
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