STATEN ISLAND — A soldier from Staten Island killed in Afghanistan last month died while shielding a Polish officer from a suicide bomber, the Army Times reported.
Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, 24, an infantryman, stepped in front the Polish soldier and blocked him from the blast from a suicide vest an insurgent was wearing during an assault on a base in Ghanzi that involved grenades, mortars, rockets and a 3,000 pound bomb, according to a US army account obtained by the Army Times.
“In emotional interviews with investigators, the Polish officer repeatedly praised SSG Ollis and credited him with saving his life,” the account said, according to Army Times.
The army has nominated Ollis for a Silver Star, the third highest military award for valor, the Army Times said.
According to the report, the Aug. 28 assault on the base was kicked off after a massive blast from a car bomb.
Insurgents shot mortar shells and fired rockets and hand grenades from outside the post, the Army Times said.
Ollis — who first checked on the men in his bunker — linked up with a Polish soldier he did not know and the pair joined a special forces team dealing with the suicide bombers.
After nine would-be bombers were taken out, a 10th jumped from behind some containers near the Polish officer and Ollis, the Army Times said.
“As Staff Sgt. Ollis stepped toward the insurgent, he stepped in front of the Polish officer, thereby blocking him,” the Army’s account said.
Ollis was assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y. in the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), the Department of Defense said.
He was previously stationed in Iraq from 2008 to 2009 and Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 and received numerous awards and medals for his service, including the Bronze Star and four army commendations, a spokesman for the U.S. Army base in Fort Drum said.
He is survived by his mother and his father.