PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Friends and veterans honored a World War II hero from New Jersey who had been the nation’s oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor.
Nicholas Oresko didn’t have any living relatives when he died last Friday at age 96.
As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, about 300 people attended a public funeral for Oresko at the Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre on the Bergen Community College campus in Paramus on Thursday. Five Medal of Honor recipients were among those who turned out.
Those who eulogized Oresko spoke about his humility, his infectious smile, the way he could clear a dance floor, his signature bow tie and his hatred of broccoli.
But most importantly, he was remembered for his bravery.
The Bayonne native was deployed in Europe during World War II. The Army master sergeant was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two German bunkers and 12 enemy soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945.
“An awful lot of people have done an awful lot of good things to make this country what it is, and Nick played a big role in that,” retired Marine Corps Col. Harvey Barnum, a Medal of Honor recipient, told Gainer.
Oresko became the nation’s oldest living Medal of Honor recipient in 2011.
Oresko had recently been hospitalized after hurting himself in a fall at an assisted living center in Cresskill. He died of complications from surgery for a broken right femur.
Gov. Chris Christie ordered flags on all state buildings to fly at half-staff in Oresko’s memory.
One of the eulogies summed up Oresko by saying that he was born during the snow and was buried in the rain, but he lived his life in the sun.
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