Archedale, NC -- Army Specialist Leslie Sabo fought in Vietnam and his selfless act of courage and heroism saved the lives of his fellow soldiers but this country's highest military valor wasn't bestowed upon him until some 40 years after his death.
The office of the U.S. presidency gave Sabo the Medal of Honor posthumously earlier this month. His family accepted the award in his honor.
On this Memorial Day News 2 spoke with Ron Gooch - Sabo's comrade and friend about the man who died on May 10th, 1970.
Gooch was at the White House as Sabo's widow accepted medal.
For 25 years after the Vietnam War Gooch himself was silent about the whole ordeal.
But he has slowly begun to open up as he honors his friends and fellow soldiers.
"It's hard to talk about,' he said Monday afternoon, with pictures and his war honors spread out on his dinning table.
Gooch has managed to block out the horrors of combat but the memories of the people have stayed with him all these years
"That's my squad again, and Sabo and me," Gooch said, pointing to a photo in a scrapbook his daughter made for him.
Sabo was in Gooch's squadron and the two became close friends.
"We used to shoot craps, some. Do different things," Gooch said. "[Sabo] wore like a red bandana and sunglasses. We made him the machine-gunner when he first came into my squad."
Sabo ultimately sacrificed his own life; and as hard is it is to remember, Gooch's 42-year-old journal won't let him forget the war stories.
"He laid his life on the line, along with seven other people that day," Gooch said about Sabo. "He did more than we did, a whole lot more."
The war veteran says he sometimes feels guilty that he made it home alive while some of his comrades didn't.
"I made it back and they got killed. I can never understand that," he said.
For her part, Gooch's wife Fredia always decorates their home on Memorial Day in honor of the fallen.
"Freedom is not free, freedom is there because we have soldiers," she said.
And Gooch added, "all the vets on memorial day, not just Vietnam vets, ought to be recognized."
Gooch himself was wounded just a month before Leslie Sabo was ambushed and killed.
He says he has since found other photos of his friend that he hopes to share with Sabo's wife.
For years now members of Gooch and Sabo's platoon have organized an annual reunion
And though the group keeps getting smaller - they've found comfort in being together after all these years.