Full Text Political Transcripts July 31, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Presentation of Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan, U.S. Army

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Presentation of Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan, U.S. Army

Source: WH,  7-31-17

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East Room

3:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please be seated.  Thank you, Chaplain Hurley.  Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Mattis, Secretary Shulkin, Senator Stabenow, Congressman Upton, and members of the Armed Forces:  Thank you for joining us as we award our nation’s highest military honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan.

Today, we pay tribute to a veteran who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect our comrades, our country, and our freedom.

Joining Jim today is his wife Cherie, his brothers Mike and Tom, his sons Jamie and Matt, and many other members of his very large and beautiful family.

We’re also gratified to be joined by eight previous Medal of Honor recipients.  Now, Jim’s name will stand forever alongside theirs in our history and in our hearts.  I want to take a few minutes to tell you about Jim and how he earned this place among legends.

Jim was raised in Bangor, Michigan.  His father built their house from scratch and worked 40 years at a piano factory.  Jim’s dad taught him a simple but powerful lesson:  Never do anything halfway.  Always do your best.  Jim took that lesson very much to heart.  He played for four varsity sports in high school and three in college.

In August of 1968, Jim was drafted into the Army.  Within six months, he was trained as a medic and arrived in Vietnam. Right away, Jim poured all of himself into his duties treating the sick and the wounded.  Before long, all his fellow soldiers called him “Doc.”

On May 13, 1969, less than three months after he arrived, Jim was one of 89 men in Charlie Company to embark on a mission to secure a transportation route near Nui Yon.  As Jim and his men jumped out of the helicopter, it quickly became clear that they were surrounded by enemy troops.  Within minutes, two choppers were shot down, and one of his men was badly wounded in the middle of an open field.

Jim did not hesitate.  He blazed through 100 meters of enemy fire to carry the wounded and the soldier to safety.  But this was only the first of many heroic deeds Jim would perform over the next 48 hours.

After tending to the first wounded soldier, Jim joined a mission to advance toward the enemy, and advance they did.  Before long, they were ambushed.  Again, he ran into danger to rescue his men.  As he cared for two soldiers, shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade slashed open the back of Jim’s body from head to foot.

Yet that terrible wound didn’t stop Jim from pulling those two men to safety, nor did it stop him from answering the plea of another wounded comrade and carrying him to safety atop his own badly injured body.  He was badly injured.

And so it went, shot after shot, blast upon blast.  As one of his comrades recalled, whoever called “medic” could immediately count on McCloughan.  He’s a brave guy.

As day turned to dusk, nearly all of those who could and really, really had to make it back — they were finally within their night defensive position, except for one soldier whose plea Jim could not ignore.

Again, “Doc” did not hesitate.  He crawled through a rice paddy thick with steel rain.  That means bullets all over the place.  As soldiers watched him, they were sure that was the last time they would see “Doc.”  They thought that was the end of their friend, Jim.

But after several minutes passed, Jim emerged from the smoke and fire carrying yet another soldier.  He immediately badgered [bandaged] and fixed and worked, but he got the wounds fixed and lifted the soldier to a medevac helicopter.

His lieutenant ordered Jim to get in, too.  “Get in,” he said, “get in.”  But Jim refused.  He said, “You’re going to need me here.”  As Jim now says, “I would have rather died on the battlefield than know that men died because they did not have a medic.”

Over the next 24 hours, Jim fired at enemy soldiers, suffered a bullet wound to his arm, and continued to race into gunfire to save more and more lives.

And yet, as night approached again, after nearly two days of no food, no water, and no rest, Jim volunteered to hold a blinking light in an open field to signal for a supply drop.  He would not yield, he would not rest, he would not stop, and he would not flinch in the face of sure death and definite danger.

Though he was thousands of miles from home, it was as if the strength and pride of our whole nation was beating inside of Jim’s heart.  Jim did what his father had taught him — he gave it his all and then he just kept giving.

In those 48 hours, Jim rescued 10 American soldiers and tended to countless others.  He was one of 32 men who fought until the end.  They held their ground against more than 2,000 enemy troops.

Jim, I know I speak for every person here when I say that we are in awe of your actions and your bravery.  But let me tell you one thing, and one more story about Jim.  On the second day of that bloody fight, Jim found a few soldiers and a fellow soldier who had been shot badly in the stomach.  He knew the soldier wouldn’t make it if he flung him on the back, so he lifted him up and carried him in his arms.

As Jim was carrying the soldier, a thought flashed through his mind.  Although Jim had always been very close to his father, he realized that it was not since he had been a young boy that he had told his dad those three very simple but beautiful words:  “I love you.”

In that moment, Jim offered up a prayer.  He asked God, “If you get me out of this hell on Earth so I can tell my dad I love him, I’ll be the best coach and the best father you could ever ask for.”  As he prayed, a great peace came over him.  And if it was God’s will for him to live, he’d keep his promise to God as soon as he had the chance.

Jim made it out of that hell on Earth.  He made it; here he is.  And the first thing he did when he arrived back on American soil was to say those beautiful words:  “I love you, Dad.  I love you.”  Jim said those words over and over again for the next 22 years until the last time he saw his father, the night before his dad passed on.

Today, I’d venture to say his dad is the proudest father in heaven.  Jim fought with all of the love and courage in his soul.  He was prepared to lay down his life so his brothers-in-arms could live theirs.

With us today are 10 of the men who fought alongside Jim, and five of those he saved.  To Bill, Randy, Mike, Joe, Kent, Robert, John, Charles, Michael, Orestes — thank you for your service and sacrifice.  Stand up wherever you may be.  Where are you?  Where are you?  (Applause.)  Thank you, fellas.  That’s great.

For over two centuries, our brave men and women in uniform have overcome tyranny, fascism, communism, and every threat to our freedom — every single threat they’ve overcome.  And we’ve overcome these threats because of titans like Jim whose spirit could never be conquered.

That’s what this award is, and Jim’s life represents so well:  America’s unbreakable spirit.  It’s been 48 years since Jim’s battle in Vietnam.  He is now a husband, a father, and a grandfather.  He coached high school football, wrestling, and baseball for 38 years, just like he said he would.  And he brought together every member he could find of his beloved Charlie Company.

To many people in this room, Specialist Five McCloughan has always been their friend, “Jim.”  To others, he’s been “Coach.” To those who bravely served with him in Vietnam, he’s still called their “Doc.”  To his parents Scotty and Margaret, both watching from heaven, he will always be their son.  But today, [to] 320 million grateful American hearts, Private McCloughan carries one immortal title — and that title is “hero.”

Specialist Five McCloughan:  We honor you.  We salute you. And with God as your witness, we thank you for what you did for all of us.

Now I would like the military aide to come forward and read the citation.

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private First Class James C. McCloughan, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Private First Class [James] C. McCloughan distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty from May 13th through 15th, 1969, while serving as a combat medic with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.

The company air assaulted into an area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill.  On May 13th, with complete disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade too injured to move and carried him to safety.  That same day, 2nd Platoon was ordered to search the area near Nui Yon Hill when the platoon was ambushed by a large North Vietnamese Army force and sustained heavy casualties.

With complete disregard for his life and personal safety, Private First Class McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a trench while being wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.  He ignored a direct order to stay back, and braved an enemy assault while moving into the “kill zone” on four more occasions to extract wounded comrades.

He treated the injured, prepared the evacuation, and though bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds on his head and entire body, refused evacuation to safety in order to remain at the battle site with his fellow soldiers who were heavily outnumbered by the North Vietnamese Army forces.

On May 14th, the platoon was again ordered to move out towards Nui Yon Hill.  Private First Class McCloughan was wounded a second time by small arms fire and shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade while rendering aid to two soldiers in an open rice paddy.  In the final phases of the attack, two companies from 2nd North Vietnamese Army Division and an element of 700 soldiers from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Charlie Company’s position on three sides.

Private First Class McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life, went into the crossfire numerous times throughout the battle to extract the wounded soldiers, while also fighting the enemy.  His relentless and courageous actions inspired and motivated his comrades to fight for their survival.  When supplies ran low, Private First Class McCloughan volunteered to hold a blinking strobe light in an open area as a marker for a nighttime resupply drop.  He remained steadfast while bullets landed all around him and rocket-propelled grenades flew over his prone, exposed body.

During the morning darkness of May 15th, Private First Class McCloughan knocked out a rocket-propelled grenade position with a grenade, fought and eliminated enemy soldiers, treated numerous casualties, kept two critically-wounded soldiers alive through the night, and organized the dead and wounded for evacuation at daylight.  His timely and courageous actions were instrumental in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Private First Class McCloughan’s personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

(A prayer is given.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Jim, thank you.  God bless you.  God bless your family.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you, Jim.  (Applause.)

END
3:35 P.M. EDT

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Full Text Obama Presidency June 2, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Medal of Honor Presentation Sergeant William Shemin and Private Henry Johnson — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Medal of Honor

Source: WH, 6-2-15

President Obama Signs Medal of Honor Certificate and Citation

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

11:27 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please be seated.

Welcome to the White House.

Nearly 100 years ago, a 16-year-old kid from the Midwest named Frank Buckles headed to Europe’s Western Front.  An ambulance driver, he carried the wounded to safety.  He lived to see our troops ship off to another war in Europe.  And one in Korea.  Vietnam.  Iraq.  Afghanistan.  And Frank Buckles became a quietly powerful advocate for our veterans, and remained that way until he passed away four years ago — America’s last surviving veteran of World War I.

On the day Frank was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Vice President Biden and I went to pay our respects.  And we weren’t alone.  Americans from across the country came out to express their gratitude as well.  They were of different ages, different races, some military, some not.  Most had never met Frank.  But all of them braved a cold winter’s day to offer a final tribute to a man with whom they shared a powerful conviction — that no one who serves our country should ever be forgotten.

We are a nation — a people — who remember our heroes.  We take seriously our responsibility to only send them when war is necessary.  We strive to care for them and their families when they come home.  We never forget their sacrifice.  And we believe that it’s never too late to say thank you.  That’s why we’re here this morning.

Today, America honors two of her sons who served in World War I, nearly a century ago.  These two soldiers were roughly the same age, dropped into the battlefields of France at roughly the same time.  They both risked their own lives to save the lives of others.  They both left us decades ago, before we could give them the full recognition that they deserved.  But it’s never too late to say thank you.  Today, we present America’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to Private Henry Johnson and Sergeant William Shemin.

I want to begin by welcoming and thanking everyone who made this day possible — family, friends, admirers.  Some of you have worked for years to honor these heroes, to give them the honor they should have received a long time ago.  We are grateful that you never gave up.  We are appreciative of your efforts.

As a young man, Henry Johnson joined millions of other African-Americans on the Great Migration from the rural South to the industrial North — a people in search of a better life.  He landed in Albany, where he mixed sodas at a pharmacy, worked in a coal yard and as a porter at a train station.  And when the United States entered World War I, Henry enlisted.  He joined one of only a few units that he could:  the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment.  The Harlem Hellfighters.  And soon, he was headed overseas.

At the time, our military was segregated.  Most black soldiers served in labor battalions, not combat units.  But General Pershing sent the 369th to fight with the French Army, which accepted them as their own.  Quickly, the Hellfighters lived up to their name.  And in the early hours of May 15, 1918, Henry Johnson became a legend.

His battalion was in Northern France, tucked into a trench. Some slept — but he couldn’t.  Henry and another soldier, Needham Roberts, stood sentry along No Man’s Land.  In the pre-dawn, it was pitch black, and silent.  And then — a click — the sound of wire cutters.

A German raiding party — at least a dozen soldiers, maybe more — fired a hail of bullets.  Henry fired back until his rifle was empty.  Then he and Needham threw grenades.  Both of them were hit.  Needham lost consciousness.  Two enemy soldiers began to carry him away while another provided cover, firing at Henry.  But Henry refused to let them take his brother in arms.  He shoved another magazine into his rifle.  It jammed.  He turned the gun around and swung it at one of the enemy, knocking him down.  Then he grabbed the only weapon he had left — his Bolo knife — and went to rescue Needham.  Henry took down one enemy soldier, then the other.  The soldier he’d knocked down with his rifle recovered, and Henry was wounded again.  But armed with just his knife, Henry took him down, too.

And finally, reinforcements arrived and the last enemy soldier fled.  As the sun rose, the scale of what happened became clear.  In just a few minutes of fighting, two Americans had defeated an entire raiding party.  And Henry Johnson saved his fellow soldier from being taken prisoner.

Henry became one of our most famous soldiers of the war.  His picture was printed on recruitment posters and ads for Victory War Stamps.  Former President Teddy Roosevelt wrote that he was one of the bravest men in the war.  In 1919, Henry rode triumphantly in a victory parade.  Crowds lined Fifth Avenue for miles, cheering this American soldier.

Henry was one of the first Americans to receive France’s highest award for valor.  But his own nation didn’t award him anything –- not even the Purple Heart, though he had been wounded 21 times.  Nothing for his bravery, though he had saved a fellow solder at great risk to himself.  His injuries left him crippled. He couldn’t find work.  His marriage fell apart.  And in his early 30s, he passed away.

Now, America can’t change what happened to Henry Johnson.  We can’t change what happened to too many soldiers like him, who went uncelebrated because our nation judged them by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.  But we can do our best to make it right.  In 1996, President Clinton awarded Henry Johnson a Purple Heart.  And today, 97 years after his extraordinary acts of courage and selflessness, I’m proud to award him the Medal of Honor.

We are honored to be joined today by some very special guests –- veterans of Henry’s regiment, the 369th.  Thank you, to each of you, for your service.  And I would ask Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson of the New York National Guard to come forward and accept this medal on Private Johnson’s behalf.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America authorized buy Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private Henry Johnson, United States Army.  Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, on May 15, 1918, during combat operations against the enemy on the front lines of the Western Front in France.

In the early morning hours, Private Johnson and another soldier were on sentry duty at a forward outpost when they received a surprise attack from the German raiding party consisting of at least 12 soldiers.  While under intense enemy fire and despite receiving significant wounds, Private Johnson mounted a brave retaliation, resulting in several enemy casualties.  When his fellow soldier was badly wounded and being carried away by the enemy, Private Johnson exposed himself to great danger by advancing from his position to engage the two enemy captors in hand-to-hand combat.  Wielding only a knife and gravely wounded himself, Private Johnson continued fighting, defeating the two captors and rescuing the wounded soldier.  Displaying great courage, he continued to hold back the larger enemy force until the defeated enemy retreated, leaving behind a large cache of weapons and equipment and providing valuable intelligence.

Without Private Johnson’s quick actions and continued fighting, even in the face of almost certain death, the enemy might have succeeded in capturing prisoners in the outpost and abandoning valuable intelligence.  Private Johnson’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey, William Shemin loved sports — football, wrestling, boxing, swimming.  If it required physical and mental toughness, and it made your heart pump, your muscles ache, he was all in.  As a teenager, he even played semi-pro baseball.  So when America entered the war, and posters asked if he was tough enough, there was no question about it — he was going to serve.  Too young to enlist?  No problem.  He puffed his chest and lied about his age.  (Laughter.)  And that’s how William Shemin joined the 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, and shipped out for France.

On August 7th, 1918, on the Western Front, the Allies were hunkered down in one trench, the Germans in another, separated by about 150 yards of open space — just a football field and a half.  But that open space was a bloodbath.  Soldier after soldier ventured out, and soldier after soldier was mowed down.  So those still in the trenches were left with a terrible choice: die trying to rescue your fellow soldier, or watch him die, knowing that part of you will die along with him.

William Shemin couldn’t stand to watch.  He ran out into the hell of No Man’s Land and dragged a wounded comrade to safety.  Then he did it again, and again.  Three times he raced through heavy machine gunfire.  Three times he carried his fellow soldiers to safety.

The battle stretched on for days.  Eventually, the platoon’s leadership broke down.  Too many officers had become casualties. So William stepped up and took command.  He reorganized the depleted squads.  Every time there was a lull in combat, he led rescues of the wounded.  As a lieutenant later described it, William was “cool, calm, intelligent, and personally utterly fearless.”  That young kid who lied about his age grew up fast in war.  And he received accolades for his valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross.

When he came home, William went to school for forestry and began a nursery business in the Bronx.  It was hard work, lots of physical labor — just like he liked it.  He married a red-head, blue-eyed woman named Bertha Schiffer, and they had three children who gave them 14 grandchildren.  He bought a house upstate, where the grandkids spent their summers swimming and riding horses.  He taught them how to salute.  He taught them the correct way to raise the flag every morning and lower and fold it every night.  He taught them how to be Americans.

William stayed in touch with his fellow veterans, too.  And when World War II came, William went and talked to the Army about signing up again.  By then, his war injuries had given him a terrible limp.  But he treated that limp just like he treated his age all those years ago — pay no attention to that, he said.  He knew how to build roads, he knew camouflage — maybe there was a place for him in this war, too.  To Bertha’s great relief, the Army said that the best thing William could do for his country was to keep running his business and take care of his family.  (Laughter.)

His daughter, Elsie — who’s here today with what seems like a platoon of Shemins — (laughter) — has a theory about what drove her father to serve.  He was the son of Russian immigrants, and he was devoted to his Jewish faith.  “His family lived through the pogroms,” she says.  “They saw towns destroyed and children killed.  And then they came to America.  And here they found a haven — a home — success — and my father and his sister both went to college.  All that, in one generation!  That’s what America meant to him.  And that’s why he’d do anything for this country.”

Well, Elsie, as much as America meant to your father, he means even more to America.  It takes our nation too long sometimes to say so — because Sergeant Shemin served at a time when the contributions and heroism of Jewish Americans in uniform were too often overlooked.  But William Shemin saved American lives.  He represented our nation with honor.   And so it is my privilege, on behalf of the American people, to make this right and finally award the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin. I want to invite his daughters — Elsie and Ina — 86 and 83, and gorgeous — (laughter) — to accept this medal on their father’s behalf.  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin, United States Army.

Sergeant William Shemin distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy on the Vesle River, near Bazoches, France from August 7th to August 9th, 1918.

Sergeant Shemin upon three different occasions left cover and crossed an open space of 150 yards, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue wounded.  After officers and seniors noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Sergeant Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire until wounded on August 9th.

Sergeant Shemin’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it has taken a long time for Henry Johnson and William Shemin to receive the recognition they deserve.  And there are surely others whose heroism is still unacknowledged and uncelebrated.  So we have work to do, as a nation, to make sure that all of our heroes’ stories are told.   And we’ll keep at it, no matter how long it takes.  America is the country we are today because of people like Henry and William — Americans who signed up to serve, and rose to meet their responsibilities — and then went beyond.  The least we can do is to say:  We know who you are.  We know what you did for us.  We are forever grateful.

May God bless the fallen of all of our wars.  May He watch over our veterans and their families and all those who serve today.  May God bless the United States of America.

With that, I’d ask the Chaplain to return to the podium for a benediction.

(The benediction is given.)

THE PRESIDENT:  With that, we conclude the formal ceremony.  But I welcome everybody to join in a wonderful reception.  And let’s give our Medal of Honor winners one big round of applause. (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:48 A.M. EDT

Political Headlines August 26, 2013: Obama Issues Medal of Honor to Afghan War Veteran

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Issues Medal of Honor to Afghan War Veteran

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama on Monday bestowed the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, praising his courageous actions during one of the most intense battles in Afghanistan and crediting him with speaking openly about the invisible wounds of war….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 11, 2013: President Barack Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Former Army Sergeant Clinton Romesha

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Former Army Sergeant

Source: NYT, 2-11-13

President Obama gave Clinton Romesha, a retired Army staff sergeant, the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House on Monday.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama gave Clinton Romesha, a retired Army staff sergeant, the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House on Monday.

President Obama bestowed the nation’s highest military honor on Clinton Romesha for defending a remote American outpost in Afghanistan from a Taliban attack in 2009….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 11, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech in Presentation of the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Presentation of the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha

Source: WH, 2-11-13 

East Room

1:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  And on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.

Every day at the White House we receive thousands of letters from folks all across America.  And at night, upstairs in my study, I read a few.  About three years ago, I received a letter from a mom in West Virginia.  Her son, Stephan, a Specialist in the Army, just 21 years old, had given his life in Afghanistan.  She had received the condolence letter that I’d sent to her family, as I send to every family of the fallen.  And she wrote me back.  “Mr. President,” she said, “you wrote me a letter telling me that my son was a hero.  I just wanted you to know what kind of hero he was.”

“My son was a great soldier,” she wrote.  “As far back as I can remember, Stephan wanted to serve his country.”  She spoke of how he “loved his brothers in B Troop.”  How he “would do anything for them.”  And of the brave actions that would cost Stephan his life, she wrote, “His sacrifice was driven by pure love.”

Today, we are honored to be joined by Stephan’s mother Vanessa and his father Larry.  Please stand, Vanessa and Larry. (Applause.)  We’re joined by the families of the seven other patriots who also gave their lives that day.  Can we please have them stand so we can acknowledge them as well.  (Applause.)  We’re joined by members of Bravo Troop whose courage that day was driven by pure love.  And we gather to present the Medal of Honor to one of these soldiers — Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha.

Clint, this is our nation’s highest military decoration.  It reflects the gratitude of our entire country.  So we’re joined by members of Congress; leaders from across our Armed Forces, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marty Dempsey, Army Secretary John McHugh, and Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno.  We are especially honored to be joined by Clint’s 4th Infantry Division — “Iron Horse” — soldiers, and members of the Medal of Honor Society, who today welcome you into their ranks.

Now, despite all this attention, you may already have a sense that Clint is a pretty humble guy.  We just spent some time together in the Oval Office.  He grew up in Lake City, California — population less than a hundred.  We welcome his family, including mom and dad, Tish and Gary.  Clint — I hope he doesn’t mind if I share that Clint was actually born at home. These days, Clint works in the oilfields of North Dakota.  He is a man of faith, and after more than a decade in uniform, he says the thing he looks forward to the most is just being a husband and a father.

In fact, this is not even the biggest event for Clint this week, because tomorrow, he and his wife Tammy will celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary.  Clint and Tammy, this is probably not the kind of intimate anniversary you planned.  (Laughter.)  But we’re so glad that you’re here, along with your three beautiful children — Dessi, Gwen and Colin.  Colin is not as shy as Clint.  (Laughter.)  He was in the Oval Office, and he was racing around pretty good.  (Laughter.)  And sampled a number of the apples before he found the one that was just right.  (Laughter.)

Now, to truly understand the extraordinary actions for which Clint is being honored, you need to understand the almost unbelievable conditions under which he and B Troop served.  This was a time, in 2009, when many of our troops still served in small, rugged outposts, even as our commanders were shifting their focus to larger towns and cities.

So Combat Outpost Keating was a collection of buildings of concrete and plywood with trenches and sandbags.  Of all the outposts in Afghanistan, Keating was among the most remote.  It sat at the bottom of a steep valley, surrounded by mountains — terrain that a later investigation said gave “ideal” cover for insurgents to attack.  COP Keating, the investigation found, was “tactically indefensible.”  But that’s what these soldiers were asked to do — defend the indefensible.

The attack came in the morning, just as the sun rose.  Some of our guys were standing guard; most, like Clint, were still sleeping.  The explosions shook them out of their beds and sent them rushing for their weapons.  And soon, the awful odds became clear:  These 53 Americans were surrounded by more than 300 Taliban fighters.

What happened next has been described as one of the most intense battles of the entire war in Afghanistan.  The attackers had the advantage — the high ground, the mountains above.  And they were unleashing everything they had — rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns, mortars; snipers taking aim.  To those Americans down below, the fire was coming in from every single direction.  They’d never seen anything like it.

With gunfire impacting all around him, Clint raced to one of the barracks and grabbed a machine gun.  He took aim at one of the enemy machine teams and took it out.  A rocket-propelled grenade exploded, sending shrapnel into his hip, his arm, and his neck.  But he kept fighting, disregarding his own wounds, and tending to an injured comrade instead.

Then, over the radio, came words no soldier ever wants to hear — “enemy in the wire.”  The Taliban had penetrated the camp.  They were taking over buildings.  The combat was close; at times, as close as 10 feet.  When Clint took aim at three of them, they never took another step.

But still, the enemy advanced.  So the Americans pulled back, to buildings that were easier to defend, to make one last stand.  One of them was later compared to the Alamo — one of them later compared it to the Alamo.  Keating, it seemed, was going to be overrun.  And that’s when Clint Romesha decided to retake that camp.

Clint gathered up his guys, and they began to fight their way back.  Storming one building, then another.  Pushing the enemy back.  Having to actually shoot up — at the enemy in the mountains above.  By now, most of the camp was on fire.  Amid the flames and smoke, Clint stood in a doorway, calling in airstrikes that shook the earth all around them.

Over the radio, they heard comrades who were pinned down in a Humvee.  So Clint and his team unloaded everything they had into the enemy positions.  And with that cover, three wounded Americans made their escape — including a grievously injured Stephan Mace.

But more Americans, their bodies, were still out there.  And Clint Romesha lives the Soldier’s Creed — “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”  So he and his team started charging, as enemy fire poured down.  And they kept charging — 50 meters; 80 meters — ultimately, a 100-meter run through a hail of bullets.  They reached their fallen friends and they brought them home.

Throughout history, the question has often been asked, why? Why do those in uniform take such extraordinary risks?  And what compels them to such courage? You ask Clint and any of these soldiers who are here today, and they’ll tell you.  Yes, they fight for their country, and they fight for our freedom.  Yes, they fight to come home to their families.  But most of all, they fight for each other, to keep each other safe and to have each other’s backs.

When I called Clint to tell him that he would receive this medal, he said he was honored, but he also said, it wasn’t just me out there, it was a team effort.  And so today we also honor this American team, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice — Private First Class Kevin Thomson, who would have turned 26 years old today; Sergeant Michael Scusa; Sergeant Joshua Kirk; Sergeant Christopher Griffin; Staff Sergeant Justin Gallegos; Staff Sergeant Vernon Martin; Sergeant Joshua Hardt; and Specialist Stephan Mace.

Each of these patriots gave their lives looking out for each other.  In a battle that raged all day, that brand of selflessness was displayed again and again and again — soldiers exposing themselves to enemy fire to pull a comrade to safety, tending to each other’s wounds, performing “buddy transfusions” — giving each other their own blood.

And if you seek a measure of that day, you need to look no further than the medals and ribbons that grace their chests — for their sustained heroism, 37 Army Commendation Medals; for their wounds, 27 Purple Hearts; for their valor, 18 Bronze Stars; for their gallantry, 9 Silver Stars.

These men were outnumbered, outgunned and almost overrun.  Looking back, one of them said, “I’m surprised any of us made it out.”  But they are here today.  And I would ask these soldiers — this band of brothers — to stand and accept the gratitude of our entire nation.  (Applause.)

There were many lessons from COP Keating.  One of them is that our troops should never, ever, be put in a position where they have to defend the indefensible.  But that’s what these soldiers did — for each other, in sacrifice driven by pure love.  And because they did, eight grieving families were at least able to welcome their soldiers home one last time.  And more than 40 American soldiers are alive today to carry on, to keep alive the memory of their fallen brothers, to help make sure that this country that we love so much remains strong and free.

What was it that turned the tide that day?  How was it that so few Americans prevailed against so many?  As we prepare for the reading of the citation, I leave you with the words of Clint himself, because they say something about our Army and they say something about America; they say something about our spirit, which will never be broken:  “We weren’t going to be beat that day,” Clint said. “You’re not going to back down in the face of adversity like that.  We were just going to win, plain and simple.”

God bless you, Clint Romesha, and all of your team.  God bless all who serve.  And God bless the United States of America.

With that, I’d like the citation to be read.

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to
Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Section Leader with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Combat Outpost Keating, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3rd, 2009.

On that morning, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small-arms fire.  Staff Sergeant Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to conduct a reconnaissance of the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner.

Staff Sergeant Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team, and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds.  Undeterred by his injuries, Staff Sergeant Romesha continued to fight, and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers.

Staff Sergeant Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle.  With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter.

While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Staff Sergeant Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center.  As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Staff Sergeant Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters.

After receiving reports that seriously injured soldiers were at a distant battle position, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his team provided covering fire to allow the injured Soldiers to safely reach the aid station. Upon receipt of orders to proceed to the next objective, his team pushed forward 100 meters under overwhelming enemy fire to recover and prevent the enemy fighters from taking the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Staff Sergeant Romesha’s heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers.  His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the Troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating.

Staff Sergeant Romesha’s discipline and extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is awarded.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, everybody.  Most of all, thank you for Clint and the entire team for their extraordinary service and devotion to our country.

We’re going to have an opportunity to celebrate and there’s going to be a wonderful reception — I hear the food around here is pretty good.  (Laughter.)  I know the band is good.  And Colin really needs to get down.  (Laughter.)

So, enjoy, everybody.  Give our newest recipient of the Medal of Honor a big round of applause once again.  (Applause.)

END
2:10 P.M. EST

White House Recap May 12-18, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Honors Barnard Graduates, Fallen Law Enforcement Officials, LA Galaxy — Awards Medal of Honor & Discussed Congress Economic “To-Do-List”

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: MAY 12-18, 2012

This week, the President discussed his plan to help responsible homeowners, honored law enforcement officers, awarded the Medal of Honor and continued to call on Congress to act on a “To Do List”

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: Courage and Sacrifice

Source: WH, 5-18-12

Fight for Your Seat: President Obama traveled to New York City to deliver his first commencement address of the year at Barnard College, one of the famous “Seven Sisters” private female liberal arts colleges. HIs first piece advice to the graduates was: “Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.”

Celebrating Soccer Champions: On Tuesday, President Obama welcomed the L.A. Galaxy to the White House to congratulate the team on their 2011 Major League Soccer Cup Championship. The star-studded team won a tough championship match after going undefeated at home all season long, and as President Obama noted, “You combined star power, hard work; it paid off.”

What Comes with the Badge: President Obama visited the U.S. Capitol for a ceremony where he paid tribute to law enforcement officials who were killed in the line of duty in the previous year. “Every American who wears the badge knows the burdens that come with it – the long hours and the stress; the knowledge that just about any moment could be a matter of life or death. You carry these burdens so the rest of us don’t have to,” the President said, acknowledging the bravery and sacrifice of all of those who serve as law enforcement officers across our country.

Above and Beyond: On Wednesday, President Obama awarded a Medal of Honor for valor above and beyond the call of duty to Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., an Army Specialist who died while serving in Cambodia in 1970. In honoring Sabo, who received the award posthumously, President Obama also paid tribute to those who served alongside him in the Vietnam era: “This medal is bestowed on a single soldier for his single courage. But it speaks to the service of an entire generation, and to the sacrifice of so many military families.”

Spruce Street at Taylor Gourmet: President Obama joined Small Business Administrator Karen Mills at Taylor Gourmet, a quickly expanding hoagie shop in Washington, D.C. for a roundtable with the business’ owners. President Obama discussed his To-Do List for Congress which includes passing legislation to help hard working small business owners create jobs by giving them a tax credit for new hires and tax relief for investments they make.

Fighting Global Hunger: At Friday’s Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, President Obama announced that leaders at the G8 meeting this weekend at Camp David would devote a special session to the chronic hunger facing nearly 1 billion people around the world. G8 and African leaders will launch a major new alliance with private sector partners with a clear goal of reducing hunger and lifting 50 million people out of poverty by investing in Africa’s agricultural economy.

Full Text Obama Presidency May 16, 2012: President Barack Obama Awards Posthumous Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era rifleman Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Awards Posthumous Medal of Honor to Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr

Source: WH, 5-16-12

President Barack Obama presents Medal of Honor to Rose Sabo-Brown, widow of Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.
President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Rose Sabo-Brown, widow of Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., U.S. Army, in the East Room of the White House, May 16, 2012. Specialist Sabo received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions in combat on May 10, 1970, while serving in Se San, Cambodia. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

In a poignant ceremony today in the East Room, President Obama awarded a Medal of Honor for valor above and beyond the call of duty to an Army Specialist who died while serving in Cambodia in 1970.

The story of Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.’s courage and sacrifice was almost lost to history. In 1999, Alton Mabb, a Vietnam veteran from the 101st, was doing research at the National Archives when he found a file that included a proposed citation for the Medal of Honor for Leslie Sabo. Mabb began the work to make sure Sabo was recognized for the heroic actions that saved the lives of his comrades, who meant more to him than life.

In honoring Sabo, President Obama also paid tribute to those who served alongside him in the Vietnam era.

Instead of being celebrated, our Vietnam veterans were often shunned. They were called many things, when there was only one thing that they deserved to be called — and that was American patriots. In two weeks, on Memorial Day, Michelle and I will join our Vietnam veterans and their families at The Wall to mark the 50th anniversary of their service. It will be another chance for America to say to our Vietnam veterans what should have been said when you first came home: You did your job. You served with honor. You made us proud. And here today — as I think Les would have wanted it — I’d ask the members of Bravo Company to stand and accept the gratitude of our nation.

So yes, this Medal of Honor is bestowed on 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.

Watch the ceremony, below:

Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at Medal of Honor Ceremony to Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.

East Room

3:26 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Thank you, General Rutherford. Good afternoon, everyone. We gather today to present the Medal of Honor for valor above and beyond the call of duty. In so doing we celebrate the soldier, the life that produced such gallantry — Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.

Today is also a solemn reminder that when an American does not come home from war, it is our military families and veterans who bear that sacrifice for a lifetime. They are spouses, like Rose Mary, who all these years since Vietnam still displays in her home her husband’s medals and decorations. They are siblings, like Leslie’s big brother George, who carries the childhood memories of his little brother tagging along at his side. And they are our veterans, like the members of Bravo Company, who still speak of their brother Les with reverence and with love.

Rose, George, Bravo Company, more than 100 family and friends — Michelle and I are honored to welcome you to the White House. The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that America can bestow. It reflects the gratitude of the entire nation. So we’re joined by members of Congress and leaders from across our armed forces, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Sandy Winnefeld; from the Army, Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno; and from the Marine Corps, the Commandant, General Jim Amos.

We’re honored to be joined by Vietnam veterans, including recipients of the Medal of Honor. And we’re joined by those who have carried on Les’s legacy in our time, in Iraq and Afghanistan — members of the 101st Airborne Division, the legendary “Screaming Eagles.”

This gathering of soldiers, past and present, could not be more timely. As a nation, we’ve ended the war in Iraq. We are moving towards an end to the war in Afghanistan. After a decade of war, our troops are coming home. And this month, we’ll begin to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a time when, to our shame, our veterans did not always receive the respect and the thanks they deserved — a mistake that must never be repeated. And that’s where I want to begin today, because the story of this Medal of Honor reminds us of our sacred obligations to all who serve.

It was 1999, around Memorial Day, and a Vietnam vet from the 101st was at the National Archives. He was doing research for an article. And there, among the stacks, an archivist brought him a box. And he took off the lid. And inside, he found a file, marked with the name “Leslie H. Sabo, Jr.” And there it was — a proposed citation for the Medal of Honor. And so this Vietnam veteran set out to find answers. Who was Leslie Sabo? What did he do? And why did he never receive that medal? Today, four decades after Leslie’s sacrifice, we can set the record straight.

I just spent some time with Rose and George and the Sabo family. Last week marked 42 years since Les gave his life. This soldier, this family, has a uniquely American story. Les was actually born in Europe, after World War II, to a family of Hungarian refugees. And as the Iron Curtain descended, they boarded a boat for America and arrived at Ellis Island, past the Statue of Liberty. They settled in the steel town of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. Les’s father worked hard, pulled his family into the middle class. And when Les was a teenager, the family went to the county courthouse together, raised their hands and became proud American citizens.

They say that Les was one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. He loved a good joke. He loved to bowl — he could have given me some tips. (Laughter.) Rose says he was pretty good-looking, too. That’s what I hear.

He’d do anything for anybody. And when George went to college, Les looked after their mom. When George went to night school, Les helped care for his three young sons. When Les fell in love with Rose — who couldn’t wait to start a life together — he slipped the ring on her finger, right there in his car, while stopped at a red light. (Laughter.) And as he headed out for Vietnam, he stopped at a shop and ordered some flowers — for his mom, for Mother’s Day, and for Rose, for her birthday.

For Les and Bravo Company, those early months of 1970 were a near constant battle. Pushing through jungles and rice paddies in their heavy packs. Enduring incredible heat and humidity. The monsoon rains that never seemed to stop. An enemy that could come out of nowhere and then vanish just as fast. For his bravery in battle, Les earned the respect of his comrades. And for his family, he wrote home every chance he could.

When American forces were sent into Cambodia, Bravo Company helped lead the way. They were moving up a jungle trail. They entered a clearing. And that’s when it happened — an ambush. Some 50 American soldiers were nearly surrounded by some 100 North Vietnamese fighters. Said Les’s comrades: “The enemy was everywhere” — in bunkers, behind trees, up in the trees, shooting down. And they opened up on them.

And Les was in the rear — and he could have stayed there. But those fighters were unloading on his brothers. So Les charged forward and took several of those fighters out. The enemy moved to outflank them. And Les attacked and drove them back. Ammo was running low. Les ran across a clearing to grab more. An enemy grenade landed near a wounded American. Les picked it up and he threw it back. And as that grenade exploded, he shielded that soldier with his own body.

Throughout history, those who have known the horror of war — and the love behind all great sacrifice — have tried to put those emotions into words. After the First World War, one soldier wrote this: “They are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear; they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades.”

And those were the voices Leslie Sabo heard that day: his comrades — pinned down, at risk of being overrun. And so, despite his wounds, despite the danger, Leslie did something extraordinary. He began to crawl straight toward an enemy bunker, its machine guns blazing. Those who were there said the enemy zeroed in with everything they had. But Les kept crawling, kept pulling himself along, closer to that bunker, even as the bullets hit the ground all around him.

And then, he grabbed a grenade and he pulled the pin. It’s said he held that grenade and didn’t throw it until the last possible moment, knowing it would take his own life, but knowing he could silence that bunker. And he did. He saved his comrades, who meant more to him than life.

Leslie Sabo left behind a wife who adored him, a brother who loved him, parents who cherished him, and family and friends who admired him. But they never knew. For decades, they never knew their Les had died a hero. The fog of war, and paperwork that seemed to get lost in the shuffle, meant this story was almost lost to history.

And so today we thank that Vietnam vet who found Les’s files in the Archives and who was determined to right this wrong — that’s Tony Mabb, who joins us here today. Where’s Tony? Tony, thank you. (Applause.)

We salute Les’s buddy, George Koziol, who, wounded in his hospital bed, first drafted the citation we’ll hear today and who spent the last years of his life fighting to get Les the recognition that he deserved.

And most of all, we salute the men who were there in that clearing in the jungle. More than two dozen were wounded. Along with Les, seven other soldiers gave their lives that day. And those who came home took on one last mission — and that was to make sure America would honor their fallen brothers. They had no idea how hard it would be, or how long it would take.

Instead of being celebrated, our Vietnam veterans were often shunned. They were called many things, when there was only one thing that they deserved to be called — and that was American patriots. In two weeks, on Memorial Day, Michelle and I will join our Vietnam veterans and their families at The Wall to mark the 50th anniversary of their service. It will be another chance for America to say to our Vietnam veterans what should have been said when you first came home: You did your job. You served with honor. You made us proud. And here today — as I think Les would have wanted it — I’d ask the members of Bravo Company to stand and accept the gratitude of our nation. (Applause.)

So yes, this Medal of Honor is bestowed on 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. Because, you see, there is one final chapter to this story.

You’ll recall that as he shipped out to Vietnam, Les stopped at that flower shop. Well, the day he gave his life was Mother’s Day. And on that day the flowers he had ordered arrived for his mom. And the day he was laid to rest was the day before Rose’s birthday. And she received the bouquet he had sent her — a dozen red roses. That’s the kind of guy — the soldier, the American — that we celebrate today.

Les’s mother and father did not live to see this day. But in his story we see the shining values that keep our military strong and keep America great. We see the patriotism of families who give our nation a piece of their heart — their husbands and wives, their sons and their daughters. And we see the devotion of citizens who put on the uniform, who kiss their families goodbye, who are willing to lay down their lives so that we can live ours in peace and in freedom.

No words will ever be truly worthy of their service. And no honor can ever fully repay their sacrifice. But on days such as this we can pay tribute. We can express our gratitude. And we can thank God that there are patriots and families such as these. So on behalf of the American people, please join me in welcoming Rose for the reading of the citation. (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Specialist Four Leslie H. Sabo, Jr. distinguished himself by conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his own life while serving as a rifleman in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division in Se San, Cambodia, May 10th, 1970.

On that day, Specialist Four Sabo and his platoon were conducting a reconnaissance patrol when they were ambushed from all sides by a large enemy force. Without hesitation, Specialist Four Sabo charged an enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. Immediately thereafter, he assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat. In order to re-supply ammunition, he sprinted across an open field to a wounded comrade. As he began to reload, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Specialist Four Sabo picked it up, threw it, and shielded his comrade with his own body, thus absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving his comrade’s life.

Seriously wounded by the blast, Specialist Four Sabo nonetheless retained the initiative and then single-handedly charged an enemy bunker that had inflicted severe damage on the platoon, receiving several serious wounds from automatic weapons fire in the process. Now mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Specialist Four Sabo’s life.

His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members. Specialist Four Sabo’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank everybody for their attendance. Please give another round of applause to the Sabo family. (Applause.) I hope that everybody enjoys the reception. I hear the food is pretty good around here. (Laughter.)

God bless you. God bless our troops. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END        3:46 P.M. EDT

White House Recap September 9-16, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Sells American Jobs Act on Tour, Sends Bill to Congress — President Attends 9/11 10th Anniversary Memorials in New York, Washington & Shankville

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: SEPTEMBER 9-16, 2011

President Barack Obama drops by an Interactive One panel

President Barack Obama drops by an Interactive One panel discussion in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Sept. 12, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Weekly Wrap-Up: Innovative Ideas

Source: WH, 9-16-11

Here’s what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:

American Jobs Act On Monday, the President sent the American Jobs Act to Congress and throughout the week he met with Americans who will benefit from the measures proposed in the Act, including gatherings at  Fort Hayes High School, in Columbus, Ohio where the conversation focused on how the American Jobs Act will help teachers and student across the country, North Carolina State University and  WestStar Precision, a small business that will benefit from the proposed Jobs Act. Here on whitehouse.gov, we held  Office Hours with some of the President’s senior economic advisers and hosted an Open for Questions session, answering your tweets, Facebook posts and questions sent to WhiteHouse.gov about the bill.

Remembering September 11 Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the worst attacks on American soil in our history. Across the country people answered the President’s call and participated in service projects, including the First Family.  The President and First Lady visited the September 11 memorials in all three of the crash sites, ground zero in New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. Vice President and Dr. Biden participated in the dedication ceremony for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, and attended the Sunday service at the Pentagon.  On Sunday evening, the President told the audience at the Kennedy Center’s Concert for Hope: “We kept the faith, took a painful blow, and we are stronger than before.”

America Invents Act Thomas Jefferson would be proud.  On Friday morning, President Obama signed the America Invents Act in law at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Alexandria, Virginia – in a nod to Jefferson, the first official to issue a U.S. patent. This historic legislation will help American entrepreneurs and businesses get their inventions to the marketplace sooner so they can turn their ideas into new products and new jobs.

Medal of Honor Dakota Meyer On Thursday the President awarded the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer, a former active duty Marine Corps Corporal from Kentucky. Sergeant Meyer was recognized for his courageous actions above and beyond the call of duty while serving in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on September 8, 2009. Meyer is the third living recipient – and the first Marine – to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. And at 23, he is also one of the youngest recipients in decades.

Violence Against Women Act This week marked the 17th anniversary of the landmark legislation, and Vice President Biden, who sponsored this bill as a senator, spoke about the great strides that have been made in addressing all types of violence against women. Since the enactment of the bill in 1994, major changes have been made in the ways that communities respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence.

We the People Turns out people want to know more about our upcoming petitions platform. Macon Phillips, the White House’s Director of Digital Strategy, addressed some of the questions and comments WhiteHouse.gov visitors have submitted about the new petition site.  We the People will provide you with a new way to petition the federal government to take action on a range of issues that you care about.

Don’t miss some behind the scenes footage on West Wing Week.

White House Recap July 11-17, 2011: President Obama Addresses the Deficit

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

Source: WH, 7-15-11

Compromise isn’t a dirty word: To a group of young Americans of different political persuasions, President Obama spoke candidly the importance of compromise in our democracy.

President Obama on deficit negotiations: On Monday and Friday, President Obama held news conferences on the status of efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

First Lady Michelle Obama Attends Funeral for Former First Lady Betty Ford

First Lady Michelle Obama attends the funeral for former First Lady Betty Ford at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif., July 12, 2011. Standing with Mrs. Obama, from left, are: former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President George W. Bush, and former First Lady Nancy Reagan. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Remembering Betty Ford: First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the life of former First Lady Betty Ford at a historic gathering at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California.

At One Year: An update on the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

West Wing Week: In “Our Heroes Are All Around Us” Check out behind-the-scenes footage from the Medal of Honor ceremony, and more.

Open for Questions: This week, the White House hosted two live chats: one on efforts to improve federal websites, and the other on disability policy.

SAVE Award: The 3rd annual SAVE Award launched on Thursday — a contest for federal employees to submit ideas on how to cut waste, save tax payer dollars, and make government more effective and efficient.

Medal of Honor: Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry was only the second living person to receive the highest military decoration awarded by the United States Government, watch the ceremony.

Sparking Growth: The Housing and Urban Development Agency (HUD) launched a pilot program in six cities where federal staffers partner with local decision makers in six cities.

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