Nicholas Oresko, Medal of Honor recipient
January 18, 1917|
Bayonne, New Jersey
|Died||October 4, 2013
Englewood, New Jersey
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Unit||302nd Infantry Regiment, 94th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge|
Nicholas Oresko (January 18, 1917 – October 4, 2013) was a United States Army veteran and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions on 23 January 1945, during World War II.
Born on January 18, 1917, in Bayonne, New Jersey, Oresko later joined the Army from that city in March 1942. He was sent to Europe and arrived in France in September 1944, three months after the Normandy landings, as a platoon sergeant in Company C, 302nd Infantry Regiment, 94th Infantry Division. His unit spent the next several months mopping up pockets of German soldiers who had been bypassed in the Allies' initial push through the northern part of France. In December 1944 they were redeployed to replace the 90th Infantry Division as part of Patton's 3d Army. The 94th assumed positions opposite the Westwall and the German 11th Panzer Division.
On January 23, 1945, near Tettingen, Germany, Oresko, by then a master sergeant, single-handedly defeated a German bunker, was seriously wounded, and then destroyed a second bunker despite his injuries. For his heroic actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor nine months later, on October 30, 1945. The medal was formally presented to him by President Harry Truman during a ceremony at the White House.
Following the death of Barney F. Hajiro in January 2011, Oresko became the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. Oresko lived in Cresskill, New Jersey. Bayonne School #14 was renamed in his honor in July 2010.
Medal of Honor citation
Master Sergeant Oresko's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
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.
- Collier, Peter (2006). Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. New York: Workman Publishing Company. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-57965-314-9.
- WWII Army Enlistment Records
- "Medal of Honor recipients - World War II (M-S)". Medal of Honor citations. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
- Considine, Bob (May 30, 2010). "New Jerseyans observe Memorial Day through different perspectives". The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey). Archived from the original on May 31, 2010.
- Hack, Charles (July 10, 2010). "New school name honors WW II recipient of medal for heroism". The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey). Archived from the original on July 10, 2010.