NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A soldier from Staten Island who was killed last month in Afghanistan died shielding another soldier from a suicide bomber.
The Aug. 28 assault began when a car bomb breached the base’s perimeter wall, allowing nearly a dozen insurgents into the compound, according the report. The attack also involved grenades, mortars and rockets.
Ollis initially raced to the scene of the blast after first checking on his own men in a bunker, the paper said. He then linked up with the Polish officer and some other troops who were battling the insurgents.
That’s when he shielded the Polish officer from an insurgent as he emerged from behind some containers nearby.
According to the Army’s account, “As Staff Sgt. Ollis stepped toward the insurgent, he stepped in front of the Polish officer, thereby blocking him,” when the insurgent’s vest detonated, the paper said.
Ollis was evacuated to a medical facility, where he later died. The Army Times said the Polish officer credited Ollis with saving his life.
Fellow soldiers told the paper they were not surprised that Ollis died saving the life of another service member.
“That was the way he was brought up,” Sgt. 1st Class Tim Sireno, who served with Ollis in 2010, told the paper. “He still protected his men and was leading from the front. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
His mom Linda said a fellow service member’s family forwarded her a letter from their son describing Ollis’ actions.
“I think I’m learning more about him now that he’s passed than I thought I new about him,” she told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa. “We were lucky to have him for the 24-plus years that we did and we feel blessed.”
The 24-year-old has been nominated for a Silver Star, the third highest military decoration for valor, a source told the Army Times.
Ollis joined the Army in 2006 and had two previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This was his third deployment overseas. He was supposed to return home this fall.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 10th Division’s at Fort Drum.
Ollis is survived by his mother and father.
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