NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A 24-year-old soldier from Staten Island has been killed in Afghanistan by insurgents who attacked his unit, military officials said.
Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis died Wednesday in Ghani Province in an attack that involved an improvised explosive device and small arms fire, the Pentagon said.
Ollis was an infantryman in the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team based at Fort Drum in northern New York.
Ollis joined the Army in August 2006. After serving in Germany and Fort Campbell in Kentucky, he arrived at Fort Drum in November 2011. He previously had done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. His unit was deployed to Afghanistan in January.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered prayers for his family and friends, and for all of those serving.
“As New Yorkers, we owe a special debt of gratitude to those who serve in our military, because New York City is in many ways America’s greatest symbol of freedom,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Our prayers are with his grieving family and friends, and may God bless Sergeant Ollis and all those who continue to serve our nation.”
Ollis is survived by his mother and father.
A flag signifying a deployed soldier and a small memorial mark the family’s New Dorp home. Neighbors remembered the man as an inspiration.
“This is what he wanted to do. He always wanted to be in the Army and he was just a great kid,” Tony Pierno told CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco.
Ollis’ father served in Vietnam. Family members said Michael wanted to follow in his footsteps.
On Friday Gov. Cuomo offered his condolences to the young soldier’s family.
“Along with all New Yorkers, I extend my sympathy to the friends, family and fellow Soldiers of Staff Sgt. Ollis,” Cuomo said. “We mourn the loss of this young soldier, but we will remember and honor his service to our nation.”
Cuomo directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Wednesday, Sept. 4 in honor of Ollis.
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