BYDGOSZCZ, Poland –The Garrison Church of the Military Parish of Our Lady of Peace held a Naming Ceremony and Solemn Holy Mass for the Uniformed Classes and the blessing of the Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis Junior Training Corps Colors, March 18, 2022. This event showcased the kinship between U.S. and Polish Soldiers, honoring the heroism of the late Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis.
Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis from Staten Island, New York was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light) out of Fort Drum, New York. While deployed in 2013 to Ghazni, Afghanistan, insurgents attacked his compound with vehicle-borne explosive devices, suicide vests, indirect fire and small arms.
After accounting for his troops, Staff Sgt. Ollis checked for any casualties in a building hit during the attack and then moved toward the enemy fighters who entered the base. He managed to locate a fellow coalition Soldier, Polish Army officer, Lt. (ret.) Karol Cierpica and together they moved toward the enemy without their armor, armed only with their rifles. The two stood together to combat the insurgents who breached their defenses, all while under continuous enemy fire.
During the fighting, an insurgent with a suicide bomb vest rounded a corner and charged them. Staff Sgt. Ollis, without body armor, put himself between the insurgent and Cierpica, who was wounded in both legs and unable to walk. Staff Sgt. Ollis fired on the insurgent and incapacitated him, but as he approached him, the insurgent’s suicide vest detonated, mortally wounding Staff Sgt. Ollis.
“He died for a great cause: freedom,” Col. Geoffrey A. Norman, the 1st Infantry Division’s Deputy Commanding Officer for Support said. “He followed in the footsteps of millions of Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country and spread freedom and democracy throughout the world. Because of his sacrifice, there are fewer terrorists to threaten our countries. He died a hero, and will live on forever in the hearts of our Allies.”
The Senior Academic High School at the College of Health Sciences received the permission of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis’ parents, Bob and Linda Ollis, to name the school’s Uniformed Classes in his honor.
“It is my firm belief that in naming our Uniformed Classes the ‘Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis Junior Training Corps’ will honor and commemorate his heroic deed among current and future generations.” said Tomasz Krajewski, the Director of Uniformed Classes.
Mr. Bob Ollis, Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis’s father, expressed how grateful he was for Poland and the Polish community and how they have welcomed him and his family since his sons passing. Lastly, Cierpica spoke about Ollis’ heroism.
“He showed me the true meaning of service, Michael did,” Cierpica said. “My true hero, is an angel in heaven.”