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Nicholas Oresko

Nicholas Oresko receives the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman. October 30, 1945.

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Oldest living Medal of Honor recipient dies at age 96 in New Jersey

Medal of Honor Citation:


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.

Images from the Battle of the Bulge

CMH Publications: Battle of the Bulge

Bastogne, The First Eight Days

Bastogne The First 8 Days

Bastogne offers unique insights, capturing the immediate impressions of the soldiers who fought in this harsh winter engagement. The author penetrates the "fog of war" with a coherent narrative that clearly captures the strategy, tactics, and leadership of the battle. This action strangled the German logistical flow to their forward assault divisions, disrupting their offensive tempo and slowing their advance. What emerges is a vivid case study of how decisive leadership and incidents of individual heroism can contribute to overcoming enemy forces and weather.

The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge


This is the story of how the Germans planned and executed their offensive. It is the story of how the high command, American and British, reacted to defeat the German plan once the reality of a German offensive was accepted. But most of all it is the story of the American fighting man and the manner in which he fought a myriad of small defensive battles until the torrent of the German attack was slowed and diverted, its force dissipated and finally spent.

The Ardennes-Alsace


In his political testament Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") Adolf Hitler wrote, "Strength lies not in defense but in attack." Throughout World War II, attempts to gain or regain the initiative had characterized Hitler's influence on military operations. Thus, when the military situation in late 1944 looked darkest on the Western Front, an enemy offensive to redress the balance on the battlefield - and thereby cripple or delay the Allied advance - should have come as no surprise.


Previous article from Armed Forces Press Service, November 11, 2011

National Leaders Participate in Vets Day Events

Nicholas Oresko at the Veterans Attend Parade in New York, Nov. 11, 2011

Ret. Army Col. Bruce P. Crandall, right, and Nicholas Oresko, center, both recipients of the Medal of Honor, attend Veterans Day activities at Madison Square Park in New York, Nov. 11, 2011. Oresko is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2011 - Today's Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Veterans Day event highlighted ceremonies around the country honoring those who served in the armed forces.

President Barack Obama started the day hosting veterans at a White House breakfast in the East Room. Later in the day, he placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and spoke at the Arlington Memorial Amphitheatre. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented the Defense Department and U.S. military at the ceremony.

The president will move on to San Diego, where he will sit with sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson for the Carrier Classic, the kick-off of the NCAA basketball season. The game will feature the University of North Carolina taking on Michigan State.

In New York, military leaders joined hundreds of thousands of spectators in one of the country's oldest and largest Veterans Day parades. The parade commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 100th anniversary of naval aviation.

Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, the nation's most recent Medal of Honor recipient, and Nicholas Oresko, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, joined the parade. Oresko, an Army veteran, received his award for actions during the Battle of the Bulge. He and Meyer were joined by four Vietnam veteran Medal of Honor recipients: Army Capt. Paul W. Bucha, Army Lt. Col. Bruce P. Crandall, Army Lt. Col. Alfred Rascon and Army 1st Lt. Brian Thacker.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno were among honorees at the New York parade.

Later today in New York, Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the unveiling of a statue entitled De Oppresso Liber - Free the Oppressed - the motto of Army Special Forces.

Commonly called the Horse Soldiers statue, it commemorates the bravery of Special Forces soldiers who first went into Afghanistan in 2001. The statue shows a Special Forces soldier riding an Afghan mountain pony. It will be displayed at the World Trade Center site.

Most cities and towns in the United States are remembering veterans on this 93rd anniversary of the armistice ending World War I. The guns stopped firing in Europe on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The United States suffered 116,708 service members killed and another 205,690 wounded. Overall, the Great War was responsible for the deaths of more than 16.5 million people.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919.

Although World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars, it didn't. In 1954, Congress enacted legislation changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.