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4th of July Thread

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by YankeeFan, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    I know I’m early, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to tell you about M/Sgt. Nick Oresko and my most memorable 4th of July.

    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 Mayor’s 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-Go’s, 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 hadn’t “won” it.

    We had arranged to use ABC’s 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 GMA’s 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 Nick’s 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 wasn’t 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 I’ve ever witnessed, and it was completely unplanned.

    Nick is 94 now. He’s the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor.


    I’ll be thinking about Nick as I celebrate Independence Day this weekend.

    Thanks for letting me share this story.
  2. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    YF: I salute you, sir. Goosebump City.

  3. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Here's how Nick's citation reads:


    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.

    Birth: 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.

    Bolding is mine.
  4. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Happy Independence Day everyone.
  5. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

  6. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Nick, the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, has passed away.

  7. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    I don't know how I missed this thread the first time around. What a moving story YF.
    RIP SGT Oresko
  8. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    (To Death) Nuts.

  9. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    I missed it the first time around, too. Glad I got a second chance to see it, but sad it was Nick's death that gave me that chance.

    RIP Nick. Godspeed.
  10. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Saw this earlier today. It's the last graf of the linked story, but The Bergen Record has the full story that after he fell and broke his leg, a whole bunch of soldiers and others, young and old, found out he had no surviving close relatives and made sure he was never by himself at the hospital.

  11. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    That's fucking awesome.
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