Spec. Leslie H Sabo Jr. died during a 1970 firefight in Cambodia when he, despite being seriously wounded, crawled up to an enemy machine-gun emplacement and dropped in a hand grenade at point-blank range.
"The Medal of Honor is bestowed upon a single soldier for his singular courage, but it speaks to the service of an entire generation and to the sacrifice of so many military families," Obama told a crowd of about 100 people in the East Room of the White House, including members of his company whom he helped save.
Sabo had been recommended for the decoration by a fellow member of the 101st Airborne who had been wounded in the ambush in Se Sehn, Cambodia. The paperwork, however, got lost and was not discovered until 1999 by a Vietnam veteran doing research at the National Archives.
The president said Sabo was killed on May 10, 1970, which was Mother's Day that year. On that same day, a bouquet of flowers he had ordered when he shipped out to Vietnam arrived at his mother's door. On the day before his funeral, another pre-arranged bunch of red roses was delivered to his wife Rose Mary for her birthday.
"That's the kind of guy -- the soldier, the American -- that we celebrate today," Obama said.
Sabo was born in Europe to Hungarian refugees who settled in Ellwood City, Pa.