New Dorp Street Renamed for Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

By Nicholas Rizzi on July 29, 2014 10:51am 

 Burbank Avenue was renamed for Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, 24, who was killed in Afghanistan last year while shielding a Polish soldier from a suicide bomber.
Burbank Avenue was renamed for Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, 24, who was killed in Afghanistan last year while shielding a Polish soldier from a suicide bomber.
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U.S. Army and DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

NEW DORP — A soldier who died in Afghanistan while saving the life of a Polish serviceman has had the Staten Island street he lived on renamed in his honor.

Burbank Avenue became "Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis Way" on Saturday. The 24-year-old soldier who died in August was honored at a ceremony hosted by Councilman Steven Matteo.

"For the family and friends of Sgt. Ollis, every day is a battle between the pain and pride that results from his heroic passing," Borough President James Oddo said in a statement.

"My hope is that this street sign will allow pride to blunt the pain a bit, while reminding generations of Staten Islanders who Sgt. Ollis was and what kind of sacrifice he made."

Last year Ollis, an infantryman, stepped in front of the Polish soldier and blocked him from the blast caused by a suicide vest worn by an insurgent during an assault on a base in Ghazni, the Army Times reported.

Ollis was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, the third-highest award for valor given by the U.S. Army, for protecting the soldier.

"SSG Michael Ollis is without a doubt an American hero, and made the ultimate sacrifice for his country," Matteo said in a statement. "He clearly deserved a ceremonial street co-naming due to his commitment to our nation and its protection."

Soon after his death, a memorial for the soldier of 24 flags and his portrait was set up at Burbank and South Railroad avenues, near where Ollis' mother and father still live.

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