Skip to comments.WWII Vet, Oldest Medal of Honor Recipient, Dies
Posted on 10/05/2013 2:07:48 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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.
Thank you, sir.
Prayers up for Master Sergeant Nicholas Oresko.
This old soldier did fade away. RIP Sir.
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.
Rest in peace and thank you for your service.
We must fight this current tyranny, so that his heroism is not forgotten.
My heart breaks that this fine soldier had to witness his country fallen to its present state. Master Seargeant Oresko, I hope we can redeem ourselves so that you can rest easy.
May God bless him.
Rest in peace, Sir
Thank you for your meritorious service to our country.
Our country, today, is in need of men like you.
Godspeed, Sir. See you at the pearly gates.
Here is something Peggy Noonan wrote over 7 years ago that references MSGT Oresko’s heroism and puts it in a wider context. I really have doubts that many of the current ‘new emigration’ feel the US is anything by the land of freestuff.
Patriots, Then and Now
With nations as with people, love them or lose them.
By PEGGY NOONAN
I had a great experience the other night. I met some of the 114 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. It was at their annual dinner, held, as it has been the past four years, at the New York Stock Exchange.
I met Nick Oresko. Nick is in his 80s, small, 5-foot-5 or so. Soft white hair, pale-pink skin, thick torso, walks with a cane. Just a nice old guy you’d pass on the street or in the airport without really seeing him. Around his neck was a sky-blue ribbon, and hanging from that ribbon the medal. He let me turn it over. It had his name, his rank, and then “1/23/45. Near Tettingen, Germany.”
When I got home I looked up his citation on my beloved Internet, where you can Google heroism. U.S. Army Master Sgt. Nicholas Oresko of Company C, 302nd Infantry, 94th Infantry Division was a platoon leader 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.
Nick Oresko lives in Tenafly, N.J. If courage were a bright light, Tenafly would glow.
I met Pat Brady of Sumner, Wash., an Army helicopter medevac pilot in Vietnam who’d repeatedly risked his life to save men he’d never met. And Sammy Davis, a big bluff blond from Flat Rock, Ill., on whom the writer Winston Groom based the Vietnam experiences of a character named Forrest Gump. Sgt. Davis saved men like Forrest, but he also took out a bunch of bad guys. And yes, he was wounded in the same way as Forrest. That scene in the movie where Lyndon Johnson puts the medal around Tom Hanks’s neck: that’s from the film of LBJ putting the medal on Sammy’s neck, only they superimposed Mr. Hanks.
I talked to James Livingston of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a Marine, a warrior in Vietnam who led in battle in spite of bad wounds and worse odds. I told him I was wondering about something. Most of us try to be brave each day in whatever circumstances, which means most of us show ourselves our courage with time. What is it like, I asked, to find out when you’re a young man, and in a way that’s irrefutable, that you are brave? What does it do to your life when no one, including you, will ever question whether you have guts?
He shook his head. The medal didn’t prove courage, he said. “It’s not bravery, it’s taking responsibility.” Each of the recipients, he said, had taken responsibility for the men and the moment at a tense and demanding time. They’d cared for others. They took care of their men.
Other recipients sounded a refrain that lingered like Taps. They felt they’d been awarded their great honor in part in the name of unknown heroes of the armed forces who’d performed spectacular acts of courage but had died along with all the witnesses who would have told the story of what they did. For each of the holders of the Medal of Honor there had been witnesses, survivors who could testify. For some great heroes of engagements large and small, maybe the greatest heroes, no one lived to tell the tale.
And so they felt they wore their medals in part for the ones known only to God.
In a brief film on the recipients that was played at the dinner, Leo Thorsness, an Air Force veteran of Vietnam, said something that lingered. He was asked what, when he performed his great act, he was sacrificing for. He couldn’t answer for a few seconds. You could tell he was searching for the right words, the right sentence. Then he said, “I get emotional about it. But we’re a free country.” He said it with a kind of wonder, and gratitude.
And of course, he said it all.
What this all got me thinking about, the next day, was . . . immigration. I know that seems a lurch, but there’s a part of the debate that isn’t sufficiently noted. There are a variety of things driving American anxiety about illegal immigration and we all know them—economic arguments, the danger of porous borders in the age of terrorism, with anyone able to come in.
But there’s another thing. And it’s not fear about “them.” It’s anxiety about us.
It’s the broad public knowledge, or intuition, in America, that we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don’t do that, you’ll lose it all.
We used to do it. We loved our country with full-throated love, we had no ambivalence. We had pride and appreciation. We were a free country. We communicated our pride and delight in this in a million ways—in our schools, our movies, our popular songs, our newspapers. It was just there, in the air. Immigrants breathed it in. That’s how the last great wave of immigrants, the European wave of 1880-1920, was turned into a great wave of Americans.
We are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically now. We are assimilating them culturally. Within a generation their children speak Valley Girl on cell phones. “So I’m like ‘no,” and he’s all ‘yeah,’ and I’m like, ‘In your dreams.’ “ Whether their parents are from Trinidad, Bosnia, Lebanon or Chile, their children, once Americans, know the same music, the same references, watch the same shows. And to a degree and in a way it will hold them together. But not forever and not in a crunch.
So far we are assimilating our immigrants economically, too. They come here and work. Good.
But we are not communicating love of country. We are not giving them the great legend of our country. We are losing that great legend.
What is the legend, the myth? That God made this a special place. That they’re joining something special. That the streets are paved with more than gold—they’re paved with the greatest thoughts man ever had, the greatest decisions he ever made, about how to live. We have free thought, free speech, freedom of worship. Look at the literature of the Republic: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist papers. Look at the great rich history, the courage and sacrifice, the house-raisings, the stubbornness. The Puritans, the Indians, the City on a Hill.
The genius cluster—Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, Franklin, all the rest—that came along at the exact same moment to lead us. And then Washington, a great man in the greatest way, not in unearned gifts well used (i.e., a high IQ followed by high attainment) but in character, in moral nature effortfully developed. How did that happen? How did we get so lucky? (I once asked a great historian if he had thoughts on this, and he nodded. He said he had come to believe it was “providential.”)
We fought a war to free slaves. We sent millions of white men to battle and destroyed a portion of our nation to free millions of black men. What kind of nation does this? We went to Europe, fought, died and won, and then taxed ourselves to save our enemies with the Marshall Plan. What kind of nation does this? Soviet communism stalked the world and we were the ones who steeled ourselves and taxed ourselves to stop it. Again: What kind of nation does this?
Only a very great one. Maybe the greatest of all.
Do we teach our immigrants that this is what they’re joining? That this is the tradition they will now continue, and uphold?
Do we, today, act as if this is such a special place? No, not always, not even often. American exceptionalism is so yesterday. We don’t want to be impolite. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to seem narrow. In the age of globalism, honest patriotism seems like a faux pas.
And yet what is true of people is probably true of nations: if you don’t have a well-grounded respect for yourself, you won’t long sustain a well-grounded respect for others.
Because we do not communicate to our immigrants, legal and illegal, that they have joined something special, some of them, understandably, get the impression they’ve joined not a great enterprise but a big box store. A big box store on the highway where you can get anything cheap. It’s a good place. But it has no legends, no meaning, and it imparts no spirit.
Who is at fault? Those of us who let the myth die, or let it change, or refused to let it be told. The politically correct nitwit teaching the seventh-grade history class who decides the impressionable young minds before him need to be informed, as their first serious history lesson, that the Founders were hypocrites, the Bill of Rights nothing new and imperfect in any case, that the Indians were victims of genocide, that Lincoln was a clinically depressed homosexual who compensated for the storms within by creating storms without . . .
You can turn any history into mud. You can turn great men and women into mud too, if you want to.
And it’s not just the nitwits, wherever they are, in the schools, the academy, the media, though they’re all harmful enough. It’s also the people who mean to be honestly and legitimately critical, to provide a new look at the old text. They’re not noticing that the old text—the legend, the myth—isn’t being taught anymore. Only the commentary is. But if all the commentary is doubting and critical, how will our kids know what to love and revere? How will they know how to balance criticism if they’ve never heard the positive side of the argument?
Those who teach, and who think for a living about American history, need to be told: Keep the text, teach the text, and only then, if you must, deconstruct the text.
When you don’t love something you lose it. If we do not teach new Americans to love their country, and not for braying or nationalistic reasons but for reasons of honest and thoughtful appreciation, and gratitude, for a history that is something new in the long story of man, then we will begin to lose it. That Medal of Honor winner, Leo Thorsness, who couldn’t quite find the words—he only found it hard to put everything into words because he knew the story, the legend, and knew it so well. Only then do you become “emotional about it.” Only then are you truly American.
Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of “John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father,” (Penguin, 2005). Her column appears Thursdays.
Something else about the fight in which MSGT Oreszko won the MOH:
I remember ... service of my father, grandfather in world wars
October 4, 2009
By WARREN SCOTT, Staff writer
WELLSBURG - Finding old photos of his grandfather and father as soldiers during World Wars I and II have helped Michael Traubert of Wellsburg to piece together details of that aspect of the two men’s lives.
He explained that his father, William F. Traubert, who was among troops in a hard-fought invasion of Nazi Germany, and his grandfather, Vincent Maloney, who served in France during World War I, didn’t speak much about their wartime experiences.
Traubert said he learned through books that his father, as an anti-tank gunner in the Army’s 94th Infantry Division, participated in the Battle of Tettington.
A photo of William F. Traubert as a soldier in the Armys 94th Infantry Division, taken with his parents, William A. and Maggie Magee Traubert,
is among items that have helped Michael Traubert of Wellsburg to piece together his late fathers World War II experiences.
The battle took place in 1945 near the end of World War II and was part of the Allied invasion of Nazi Germany that culminated in the more famous Battle of the Bulge.
Tettington was one of a handful towns along Germay’s western border where Allied troops were able to defeat a battalion of German tanks with mortar, artillery, bazooka and concentrated machine gun fire.
Traubert said the battle was the inspiration for the last scene of the Steven Spielberg film, “Saving Private Ryan.”
Traubert said the division also was involved in liberating France from Nazi control following 111 days of combat. In that time thousands of German troops were killed, injured, captured or missing.
Traubert said his father seemed reluctant to talk about any killing he saw or was involved in.
“He never really talked about the blood and guts of it,” he said.
But his father did relate that a soldier in his squad saved him and others by throwing himself onto a live grenade.
William Traubert wasn’t unscathed in the fighting, as he returned home with shrapnel in his back.
Most of the men in his father’s squad had been killed at the war’s end, Traubert said.
“He was very lucky to come home,” he said.
Traubert said his father spoke mostly about the bitter winter he and the others endured while advancing to Germany from France.
He told his family how he and other soldiers would take heavy blankets from abandoned houses to warm themselves in the below-freezing temperatures.
Traubert said his father almost lost his feet to frostbite but he may have been better prepared than some, having worked on the family’s dairy farm much of his life.
Traubert added his father also delivered milk in the early morning while attending Wellsburg High School and was known to many as “the smiling milkman” for his cheerful disposition.
William Traubert received the Bronze Star and other military honors for his efforts but was very casual about them.
“He would let me play with his medals as though they were toys because he loved his kids,” Michael recalled.
He said his father overall was “a man of peace” but he felt it was important to serve one’s country. Traubert recalled walking with his father to register for the draft around 1975, near the close of the Vietnam War, even though the elder Traubert had reservations about that war.
Like Traubert’s father, Vincent Maloney didn’t say much about any death or killing he saw while serving in France during World War I, though he did mention the poison gas used by the German troops.
Traubert said the biggest impression he got of his grandfather’s experience was the loneliness he felt due to being away from his family.
His grandfather returned from the war with several letters he’d received from his mother, who would write “With oceans of love,” before signing her name. Traubert found them and the letters Maloney had written in response.
“They could bring you to tears,” Traubert said.
Maloney, who had begun working at the S. George Paper Co. in Wellsburg at age 15, returned to the plant, working primarily as a typesetter until his retirement at the age of 75.
Traubert recalled his grandfather was very active in the American Legion and encouraged all of his grandchildren to show respect for the U.S. flag.
(Scott can be contacted at email@example.com.)
Prayers up for him and family.
RIP Master Sergeant Nicholas Oresko.....
Regrettably, America is not not living lives worthy of your sacrifice, nor the sacrifices of your fallen brothers.
Thank you, Nicholas Oresko, for your extraordinary valor and service to our nation.
God rest your soul.
May all who mourn be comforted.
America demands Justice for the Fallen of Benghazi!
I was honored to spend the day with his generation today.
More pics here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3075136/posts?q=1&;page=51
Rest in Peace Master Sergeant.
God bless ‘em. he got out before Obama’s death panel could get to him. Old vets will be at the top of their list.
RIP, MSG Oresko
Thank you for standing in the gap
Is anyone else sitting there musing about what kind of burial ceremony this hero will receive? After all, just recently, 2 Vietnam Airmen, James Sizemore and Howard Andre, KIA in 1969, were laid to rest at Arlington and the Air Force could not find the funds for a flyover. Instead a civilian outfit, Warrior Aviation, did the job at their own volunteer expense of $24k in fuel costs alone.
Holding my breath for a new outrage!
A couple of years ago, I talked to a guy who was with the 94th ID during the Bulge.
He said his hands and feet always got a bluish tinge when it was cold out ever afterwards. He said it was his “keepsake”.
I thanked him, and wished him a warm winter.
Definitely has a face from Bayonne.
Don’t mess with Bayonne, things turn out bad when you do.
Yea, some of the nicest guys in the world, till you mess with one of theirs, then, you are on your own.
I met M/Sgt. Oresko in July of 2000.
Fleet Week is an annual event in NYC where a number of Naval vessels including at least one foreign navy ship anchor in New York and the Sailors are given leave.
The event is hosted by the Intrepid Air, Sea, & Space Museum. There are demonstrations and the ships are open for public tour.
You see the Sailors all over town in their dress uniforms.
Fleet Week is usually held during Memorial Day, but in 2000, it was moved to the week of July, 4th.
At the time, I had recently taken a job with Continental Airlines in Houston, but I was home in New York helping out my (now ex) girlfriend who ran the Mayors office of Special Events.
They had decided that in honor of Fleet Week and the 4th of July, they would throw a free, USO style concert in Times Square.
They named the event a Salute to the American Hero, and lined up acts like the Go-Gos, Eddie Money, and US Army Veteran/Country singer Craig Morgan as entertainment.
At some point, I suggested that to honor the military, we should have the Mayor present the Key to the City to a member of the Military. He/she would accept it on behalf of all service members.
I suggested we try to find a local Medal of Honor recipient.
The Mayor approved the idea, and it being the day before the event, we now needed to find someone.
I looked through a list of living recipients for a local person. I figured my best chance would be someone with a rare enough name that I could find them in the phone book.
And thus, I found myself on the phone with M/Sgt. Nick Oresko, a WWII Army vet from New Jersey who on January 23, 1945, near Tettingen, Germany, single-handedly defeated a German bunker, was seriously wounded, and then destroyed a second bunker despite his injuries.
Nick was available the next day and was thrilled by the idea. He only asked that we provide him with a ride into and back out of the City and that we also pick up his girlfriend.
So, the next day a fellow from City hall and I set out to pick them up.
Nick was humble, gracious, and funny.
When I asked him about winning the award, he politely told me that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor. He hadnt won it.
We had arranged to use ABCs Good Morning America studio, overlooking Times Square as a Green Room and to host a private reception.
The concert began, and the area in front of the stage had been reseved for active duty military in uniform.
A bunch of Vietnam Vets took seats in some bleachers off to the side.
When the Mayor arrived at GMAs studio, he asked to meet Nick. Nick was thrilled and humble. The Mayor wants to meet me, he told his girlfriend.
By the time we were ready for Nicks part of the show, it had rained and was still drizzling. So, the crowd had dispersed during the worst of it, but had mostly returned.
Since not everybody came back, the Vietnam Vets were ushered to the front of the stage as well.
When it was time to go, the Mayor and his staff, instead of waiting for the elevator, started down the stairs, two at a time.
Nick was 83 at the time. He did push ups and walked every day, but his hip wasnt great and stairs were not easy for him.
Realizing this, the Mayor stopped, and we all took our time.
The ceremony was beautiful. I held an umbrella for Nick as he received the Key to the City.
The crowd loved him and he was truly moved by the reception he received.
As we left the stage, I asked him if he wanted to go say hello to the young Sailors in front of the stage.
Nick decline. I think he wanted to get inside, out of the rain, and back to the side of his girlfriend.
But, then he changed his mind.
So, we stepped into the roped off area, and what I witnessed was incredible.
Young sailors, born decades after Nick had served, came up to him & saluted him. And Nick returned every salute.
Then, the Vietnam Vets, tears in their eyes, came up to him and saluted. Then they gave him bear hugs. Nick was in tears by now.
Finally, the Russian Sailors in town for Fleet Week lined up, and one by one saluted this 83-year-old retired soldier.
All of those who had served understood what it means to be awarded the Medal of Honor, and the respect they had for Nick was palpable.
It was the most moving event Ive ever witnessed, and it was completely unplanned.
RIP, dear hero, in the Arms of our Blessed Lord.
RIP. Thank you for your service.
May God bless and comfort his loved ones.
My heart breaks that this fine soldier had to witness his country fallen to its present state.
A few years ago, on a visit to the D-Day memorial in VA, we met a WWII vet and his wife. He had not been at Normandy, and he had not seen combat, although he had been in the Pacific. Broke my heart when I heard him say that he would not do it all over again today with the way our country has deteriorated.
Likewise, my heart aches for the young men — as well as for their parents and their wives — who are put in harm’s way by those who do not love this country.
...was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945...
Truly, we will not see the likes of these men again in our lifetimes.
My dad was in the Navy and served on the first USS Saratoga. He was a parachute rigger. He never talked about serious things that had happened to him during the war but he had lots of funny stories. My husband’s dad was in the Solomons for 3 years. He was a lt. in the Signal Corp. Both are gone now but I know they would be appalled at what is going on today. I know I am.
Rest in Peace, Sir, thank you for your service.
What a stinking contrast. America once had millions of Sgt. Oreskos. Now we have Comrade Obama.
What went wrong, people?
I know. I just had to scream it out.
PS: Got a father-in-law just like Oresko. 75th JASCO, Iwo Jima. A real American, not like the commie pretender in the Red House today.
Still alive at 93. Retired as a Lt. Col. Gave up a Brigadier General position to be with his family.
They were the “Greatest Generation” and our Nam guys and OIF/Afghanistan men and women are following in their bloodied footsteps.
R.I.P. Sir. We owe so much to you and your generation. Thank you for your sacrifice.
God bless, Sarge. Well done.
Prayers up for his family.
A life well lived.
Rest his soul...
Somehow I know it goes without saying that people here and those who respect Veterans and their sacrifices, understand the big picture...
His service and saccrifice is ever so prevalent, and appreciated by people that may have never had the privaledge to meet him...
What does bother me is that the very government that is suppose to honor their sacrifice by not doing the things it is doing right now, does dis-respect his and many others sacrifices...
When you stop doign that, you lose mire than your credibility, you lose your excuse to exist, there is no justification for our governments’ actions (inaction)...
Much less an excuse or need for them to blame a certain aspect of their peers who are attempting to stop this overreaching agenda...
Thank you Master Sgt...Your buddies you served with, are pleased you made it...Your peace is well deserved!!!