A World War II hero and the country’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient died on Friday in New Jersey at the age of 96.
Nicholas Oresko 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, according to The Record.
Oresko killed 12 German soldiers, then refused to leave the area.
“They wanted to take me back to the hospital,” Oresko told The Record in early 2012. “I said ‘No, let’s take the position first.’ I didn’t want to give it up after doing so much.”
NJ.com reports that Oresko’s actions were praised as key to the Allies' victory, and he was credited with preventing an untold number of American casualties.
President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Oresko during a White House ceremony on Oct. 30, 1945.
Oresko grew up in Bayonne, N.J., and the city renamed a school after him in 2010.
The Record also noted that one of Oresko’s friends, Richard E. Robitaille, had sent emails about his status this week to students at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, where he is the vice president of military veterans affairs. Robitaille said the students posted the information on Facebook and other sites, leading to an outpouring of affection from people across the country.