On Friday, October 4, 2013 Nicholas Oresko, at the time the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, passed away during surgery to repair a broken femur suffered in a fall at his assisted living facility. Mr. Oresko served in the United States Army's 94th Infantry Division during World War II, and received the Medal for his heroism on January 23, 1945. Born on January 18, 1917, he was 96 years old at his passing.
From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (M-S):
|Oresko in 1945|
|Oresko in 2011|
Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 302d Infantry, 94th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Tettington, Germany, 23 January 1945. Entered service at: Bayonne, N.J. G.O. No.: 95, 30 October 1945 Citation: M/Sgt. Oresko was a platoon leader with Company C, in an attack against strong enemy positions. Deadly automatic fire from the flanks pinned down his unit. Realizing that a machinegun in a nearby bunker must be eliminated, he swiftly worked ahead alone, braving bullets which struck about him, until close enough to throw a grenade into the German position. He rushed the bunker and, with pointblank rifle fire, killed all the hostile occupants who survived the grenade blast. Another machinegun opened up on him, knocking him down and seriously wounding him in the hip. Refusing to withdraw from the battle, he placed himself at the head of his platoon to continue the assault. As withering machinegun and rifle fire swept the area, he struck out alone in advance of his men to a second bunker. With a grenade, he crippled the dug-in machinegun defending this position and then wiped out the troops manning it with his rifle, completing his second self-imposed, 1-man attack. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused to be evacuated until assured the mission was successfully accomplished. Through quick thinking, indomitable courage, and unswerving devotion to the attack in the face of bitter resistance and while wounded, M /Sgt. Oresko killed 12 Germans, prevented a delay in the assault, and made it possible for Company C to obtain its objective with minimum casualties.
Oresko had no surviving family, but during the last days of his life in the hospital, he was attended continuously by fellow veterans and active duty service members.
It has not been reported yet where he will be laid to his eternal rest.
An expanded post about this American hero will appear in this space on the 70th anniversary of his Medal of Honor action, January 23, 2015.