Nation’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient dies

CRESSKILL, N.J. — A World War II veteran and the nation’s oldest living Medal of Honor recipient has died in New Jersey.

Nicholas Oresko, an Army master sergeant who was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, died Friday night at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, hospital officials announced Saturday. He was 96.

Oresko had been hospitalized after injuring himself in a fall at an assisted living center in Cresskill. He died of complications from surgery for a broken right femur.

A November 2011 article on the Department of Defense website described Oresko as the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. The medal is the nation’s highest military honor, awarded by Congress for risk of life in combat beyond the call of duty.

A Bayonne native, Oresko received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman on Oct. 30, 1945.

At 28, Oresko was the platoon leader when automatic fire pinned down his unit. Realizing a machine gun in a nearby bunker needed to be eliminated, Oresko moved out alone in the morning darkness, braving bullets that zipped about him, until he was close enough to throw a grenade into the German bunker. He rushed the bunker and used his M-1 rifle to kill the soldiers who survived the grenade blast.

Then another machine gun fired, knocking Oresko down and wounding him in the right hip and leg. He managed to crawl to another bunker and take it out with another grenade. Despite being weak from loss of blood, Oresko refused to be evacuated until he was assured that the mission was accomplished.

His actions on Jan. 23, 1945, were credited with preventing numerous American casualties and were praised as key to the Allies’ victory.

The Bergen Record reported that several veterans and young members of various branches of the military stayed with Oresko in his final days after a friend wrote about his health problems on a Facebook page and noted that Oresko had no immediate family still living.

More in Local News

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Small fire breaks out at haunted house in Everett

Plastic that was supposed to be noncombustable was sitting next to a hot lightbulb.

Rules of the road for ‘extra-fast pedestrians’ — skateboarders

State traffic law defines them as pedestrians, and yet they are often in the middle of the street.

Distress beacon leads rescuers to Pacific Crest Trail hikers

Two men in their 20s had encountered snow and waited two nights for a helicopter rescue.

City of Everett to give $400K to a nonprofit housing project

The city expects to enter a contract with HopeWorks, an affiliate of Housing Hope.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Some damage undone: Thousands of heroin needles removed

Hand Up Project volunteers cleaned up a patch of woods that some of them had occupied near Everett.

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Most Read