Nicholas Oresko of Cresskill, the nation’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient, died Friday evening, surrounded by veterans and military personnel.
Oresko, 96, was a U.S. Army master sergeant during World War II when, although badly wounded, he wiped out two enemy bunkers near Tettingen, Germany, during the Battle of the Bulge.
He died at 6:30 p.m. at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center of complications from surgery for a broken right femur, said John “Jack” Carbone, a family friend. That was the same leg injured by gunfire on Jan. 23, 1945, as he crawled from one enemy bunker to another.
Oresko had no living immediate family, but he was never alone at the hospital after being taken there earlier in the week from a Cresskill assisted living facility, Carbone said. Veterans and young members of various branches of military service were at his side, with more than two dozen at the hospital Friday afternoon before he was taken to have surgery.
“The kids held his hand and prayed with him,” Carbone said.