An Army recruiter who previously served as a medic in Afghanistan had his Silver Star upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross after he saved the lives of three of his fellow soldiers while under enemy fire in Afghanistan in 2008.
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.
A soldier's Silver Star — which he originally believed to be "too much recognition" despite receiving it for playing hot potato with a live grenade and saving at least six others — has been upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross.
In March 2010, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason W. Myers rushed into enemy fire to rescue two Afghanistan police officers.
A little more than a year later, in November of 2011, Myers repeatedly went into a building under enemy attack, surrounded by grenade blasts to help rescue 15 hostages in Afghanistan.
About 3:15 p.m. on Nov. 10, 2011, Myers' unit noticed insurgent weapon fire in a civilian compound distribution center, a Special Forces major said at a ceremony Wednesday where Myers was presented with his second Distinguished Service Cross Award in the John F. Kennedy auditorium at Fort Bragg.
The Distinguished Service Cross is the nation's second-highest military award for valor. According to the Army, Myers is presently the only active duty soldier with two Distinguished Service Crosses.
In this photo made on Wednesday, May 5, 2010, Lt. Andrew Bundermann, 25, with Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry, poses for a portrait at Forward Operating Base Bostick in Kunar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Associated Press/Dusan Vranic)
With more than 300 Taliban fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and heavy weapons at 54 soldiers trapped in a remote mountain outpost in Afghanistan, Andrew Bundermann quickly realized his platoon was in deep trouble.
"It's really happening. It's not a dream. It's not a movie," he thought to himself that October morning nearly 10 years ago. "It's actually happening."
Then, drawing on his training, the young U.S. Army 1st lieutenant from Bovey, Minn., got to work.
While under fire, Maj. Thomas Bostick placed himself in front of an overwhelming enemy force to provide covering fire to enable the paratroopers in his command post to displace to more defensible terrain in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army/Maj. Chris Bradley)
The Army will present the Distinguished Service Cross on Friday to family members of a paratrooper who sacrificed his life for his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, one of 12 upgrades to the nation's second-highest award for valor the service plans to make following a detailed award review.