Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Soldier posthumously receives Distinguished Service Cross for sacrificing himself to save a Polish soldier in Afghanistan
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Distinguished Service Cross was awarded posthumously to Army Staff Sergeant Michael H. Ollis in a ceremony marked by pomp and circumstance, poignant speeches, applause and even a few tears in Oakwood, New York on Saturday afternoon.
Military brass, politicians, veterans, family members and friends turned out in force for the standing-room-only dedication that was held on the lawn of the VFW Post that bears the Ollis name.
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General James C. McConville bestowed the honor that symbolizes the extraordinary heroism of the infantryman to his parents, Robert and Linda Ollis, in a spiritually charged ceremony under brilliant sunshine.
Ollis, 24, a lifelong resident of New Dorp, sacrificed his own life on Aug. 28, 2013, while shielding Lieutenant Karol Cierpica of Poland, a member of the coalition forces, from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
McConville described Ollis as a "true American hero" and also asked Cierpica to stand for acknowledgement in the crowd.
"Their actions that day in August against a very determined enemy saved many, many lives," the general said.
"They soundly defeated a threat that would have had strategic-level consequences for the United States, our allies and partners who were fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan."
Lauding the WWII veterans at the event, McConville noted the many recent worldwide ceremonies honoring the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
"Every generation has its heroes and Michael Ollis is one of ours," the general said.
"From my entire heart, I thank you," Robert Ollis said to the general.
"You have no idea what this means to us," the father added. "You have no idea what it is to be the parent."
"I really would love Michael to be standing here," Robert said, and moments later, his son's plaque fell off of a podium.
"That's Michael talking to us," the father remarked.
Robert Ollis, the father of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, and Kimberly Loschiavo, the sister of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, posthumously receive the Distinguished Service Cross from General James C. McConville, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, June 8, 2019 (U.S. Army/Sgt. Jerod Hathaway)
The father spoke of his son's dedication to the military.
"Michael had a love affair with the United States Army," his father said. "I think that's what made Michael so good."
After a 30-day leave, Michael would be eager to return to service.
"He couldn't wait to get to the next deployment," the father said, adding, "He had all intentions of staying in (the Army) forever."
Of his son's demise, the father said, "It's painful to relive it. I've been approached many times by people who say, 'How the hell do you do it?'
"I don't know."
But the father added that "through the tears, we have to tell the story of Karol and Michael. Because what Karol and Michael did in about 15 minutes, the United Nations hasn't been able to do in years.
"They just locked arms and followed each other. They didn't worry about what language it was..."
The father described Michael and Karol as "battle buddies" who helped their fellow soldiers "drive out the insurgents."
Lilliana Runnels, 10, of PS 23, Richmond, read a Memorial Day essay that Robert Ollis introduced, saying that her words "brought Linda and I to tears." The commentary told how on every Memorial Day, Lilliana and her family leave an American flag at a vigil site at Burbank and South Railroad avenues near the Ollis home. Lilliana -- whose mother, Lisa, was a childhood friend of Michael Ollis -- is this year's winner of a Memorial Day Essay Contest sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lanza.
©2019 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Actor Mark Wahlberg will be visiting troops overseas to plug Wahlburgers, a fast-casual restaurant chain owned by the actor and his two brothers, Donnie Wahlberg, and chef Paul Wahlberg.
US troops will not burn and pillage like Genghis Khan's hordes as a result of Trump intervening in war crimes cases, Milley says
The U.S. military will not disintegrate into an undisciplined horde following President Donald Trump's recent intervention in three war crimes cases, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley assured lawmakers on Wednesday.
Milley was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee when he was pressed by Iraq war veteran Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) about the president's actions in the cases of former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, retired Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and retired Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher.
Taliban fighters attempted to fight their way into Bagram Airfield on Wednesday by invading a medical facility just outside of the base's perimeter, a spokesman for Operation Resolute Support said Wednesday.
J.P. Lawrence of Stars and Stripes and Jim LaPorta of Newsweek first reported that the battle lasted for several hours after using car bombs to attack the hospital, which is near the base's northern corner. Helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft were reportedly used to drop ordnance on the hospital.
An armed suspect was taken into custody at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on Wednesday morning after a brief lockdown period, according to the Texas base's Facebook account.
Though the exact nature of the incident is unclear, base officials wrote that no shots were fired and no injuries were reported.
The new defense bill would create a public database for every complaint made about privatized housing
Among the dozens of requirements outlined in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act is the requirement for the Secretary of Defense to create a public database for privatized housing complaints.
So, that will be... a lot.