Walter James Sabalauski

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Walter James Sabalauski
Born March 31, 1910
Died August 9, 1993(1993-08-09) (aged 83)
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service June, 1941 - 1971
Rank Command Sergeant Major
Battles/wars World War II
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (8)
Air Medal (3)
Army Commendation Medal (6)
Purple Heart (4)
Combat Infantryman Badge (3)
Master Parachutist Badge
Campaign medal(s)

Walter James Sabalauski (March 31, 1910 - August 9, 1993) was born in Lithuania. His family moved to the United States while he was a small child. From 1929 to 1937, he boxed professionally while living in the Chicago area. An auto accident ended his career with an outstanding record of only two defeats in 33 bouts.


Command Sergeant Major Sabalauski entered the U.S. Army in June 1941. During World War II, he served in the Pacific Theater, fighting on the beachheads of the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, and the Philippines. He later served in the Korean War with the 187th Regimental Combat Team (Airborne) and 25th Infantry Regiment. In 1963, CSM Sabalauski went to Vietnam for the first time, where he served as an advisor to the 32d Vietnamese Ranger Battalion. After service in the Dominican Republic in 1965, he returned to Vietnam in 1966. It was during this tour that he fought his most memorable battle.

Early in June 1966, Charlie Company, 2d Battalion, 502d Infantry Regiment was conducting a mission to locate elements of the 24th North Vietnamese Regiment. Charlie Company made contact with what was estimated to be a battalion-sized enemy element. Under heavy enemy fire and unable to maneuver, the company commander, Captain William Carpenter called for air strikes in his position in an attempt to force the enemy to withdraw. The enemy ceased fire long enough to allow Charlie Company to consolidate, reorganize and establish a position from which to defend and begin evacuation of wounded personnel. First Sergeant Sabalauski, in utter disregard for his own safety, repeatedly placed himself at risk for the sake of his soldiers during the conduct of this mission. For his extraordinary heroism in destroying the enemy and in evacuating the mass casualties, he received both the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star.

After his second tour in Vietnam he returned to the United States to serve as Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major at West Point. In 1968, he again returned to Vietnam and the 2-502d Infantry Regiment. Command Sergeant Major Sabalauski continued to serve until 1971 when he retired at the age of 61.

Command Sergeant Major Sabalauski's awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, 8 Bronze Stars, 3 Air Medals, 6 Army Commendation Medals, 4 Purple Hearts, 3 Awards of the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge along with campaign medals for service in World War II, Korea, Dominican Republic, and Vietnam.

Command Sergeant Major Sabalauski died in 1993 and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. To the soldiers who served with him, he is remembered as a fearless leader in combat and as having a heart as big as any country in which he served.

The Sabalauski Air Assault School located in Fort Campbell, Kentucky was renamed in his honor in 1994.

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