NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a bittersweet start to the week on Staten Island as a new ferry joined the fleet.
It displays the name of a local hero who died serving his country.READ MORE: Student, 14, Arrested With Loaded Handgun At Brooklyn High School
Family, friends and officials gathered to watch the commissioning, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.
The christening of the Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis summoned a big crowd on Monday and understandably so.
“This ferry is named for a Staten Island hero,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman said.
Ollis enlisted in the Army at 17. After graduating from high school, he went on to serve for seven years. In August of 2013, though, while on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, he died shielding a Polish soldier from a suicide bomber.
“He was a Ranger. You go toward the fight. You don’t run from the fight,” father Bob Ollis said.
Bob Ollis said the commissioning of the ferry will keep his son’s name rolling on forever.
“And ever and ever because I think he deserved it,” Bob Ollis said.READ MORE: SportsLine Week 8 NFC East Picks: 'Everybody Is Piling On The Cowboys, And You Can't Blame Them,' Says Larry Hartstein
A plaque will be secured inside the vessel, giving every passenger from near and far the opportunity to learn more about him.
“Over millennia, we’ve trained to survive, to get away and yet Michael chose to go against human nature,” Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said.
“What seems to be an era of selfishness, Mike Ollis is a radiant example of selfless service,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan said.
Michael Ollis was the ultimate hero, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Michael brought great honor to his family, his borough, his city, his nation,” de Blasio said.
The commissioning of the shiny new vessel boasting a top deck walking loop and charging stations honors him in return.
“It’s world class. It’s top of the line. It’s worthy of him,” de Blasio said.
“We waited several years for this and finally it’s here. We’re thrilled and we’re sad at the same time,” mother Linda Ollis said.
They are sad their beloved son no longer stands beside them in the flesh, but thrilled his story and his sacrifice will not be forgotten.MORE NEWS: Best Friends Die An Hour Apart After Crash: 'They Were Special'
The Staff Sergeant Michael H. Ollis ferry is the first new boat in the fleet in 16 years. There are two more on the way and all three will be Ollis class ferries.