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WWII vet and oldest Medal of Honor recipient dies

Nicholas Oresko

Nicholas Oresko

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.

Mr. 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 Mr. 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.

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

At 28, Mr. Oresko was the platoon leader when automatic fire pinned down his unit. Realizing a machine gun in a nearby bunker needed to be eliminated, he 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 Mr. Oresko down and wounding him in the right hip and leg. He crawled to another bunker and took it out with another grenade.

His actions on Jan. 23, 1945, were credited with preventing numerous American casualties.

WWII vet and oldest Medal of Honor recipient dies 10/05/13 [Last modified: Saturday, October 5, 2013 10:39pm]
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