The Highest Honor – The Ultimate Sacrifice

Jake Tapper, Richard Coolidge & Sherisse Pham
Power Players

Political Punch

It is the nation's highest military honor, bestowed by the president on soldiers for extraordinary valor on the battlefield. But just what does it take to receive the Medal of Honor? Recently President Obama recognized the sacrifice of  Specialist Leslie Sabo Jr. for valor above and beyond the call of duty during the Vietnam War. Sabo was killed in combat more than 42 years ago, when his patrol was ambushed by North Vietnamese troops near a remote border area of Cambodia; it came to be known as the "Mother's Day Ambush."

Colonel Jason Evans reviews proposals for Medal of Honor nominees. The process can take years, but usually not 40 years. Anyone with first-hand knowledge, a first-hand witness, can submit a soldier for the award. Proposals are meticulously checked to ensure there is incontestable proof that the event did happen. From there, said Evans, it goes to the Pentagon, then to a review board, then to the Secretary of the Army, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and finally on to the president for potential approval.

Recipients of the Medal of Honor often give the ultimate sacrifice.

"Despite his wounds, despite the danger, Leslie did something extraordinary.  He began to crawl straight toward an enemy bunker," said Obama. "He grabbed a grenade and he pulled the pin ... He saved his comrades, who meant more to him than life."

Check out this week's Political Punch for more of Leslie Sabo Jr.'s story, and to hear about the last gift he gave his wife.

ABC's Luis Martinez and Sarah Burke contributed to this story.