12 November 2013
During an attack on a base in Ghazni, SSG Ollis shielded a Polish officer, Second Lieutenant Karol Cierpica, thereby saving his live. This act of valor constitutes an ultimate manifestation of Brotherhood in Arms, which binds Polish and American soldiers in their fight against terrorism.
The President of the Republic of Poland Bronisław Komorowski, in recognition of his selfless heroism and devotion has awarded SSG Michael H. Ollis the “Afghanistan Star.” The Afghanistan Star is the presidential reward presented exclusively to soldiers as a token of appreciation for their outstanding performance during the service in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The Minister of Defense of the Republic of Poland Tomasz Siemoniak, in recognition of his heroic and selfless actions in the line of duty has awarded SSG Michael H. Ollis the “Polish Armed Forces Gold Medal”. The Polish Armed Forces Gold Medal is the only defense reward exclusively presented to foreign individuals as a token of appreciation for their outstanding performance and great devotion to support the Polish Armed Forces activities, including multinational overseas contingency operations.
His Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United States Ryszard Schnepf along with second lieutenant Karol Cierpica presented the “Afghanistan Star”, and Poland’s Defense, Military, Naval and Air Attaché Brigadier General Jarosław Stróżyk presented the Polish Armed Forces Gold Medal” to the family of Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, who through his heroic and selfless action saved the life of his brother in arms Polish officer Karol Cierpica from a suicide bomber. High representatives of the US administration, as well as veterans, attended the ceremony. The presence of Second Lieutenant Karol Cierpica, who was saved by the American hero, was moving and symbolic.
“I am honored that we have all come together today during this moving tribute to pay our respect to the life and valor of a soldier and man who embodied all of the virtues of devotion and brotherhood – who gave his life in the fight for global peace, for his country, and most importantly for all the colleagues he served alongside in Afghanistan, including lieutenant Karol Cierpica, who is present with us today, and whose life was saved by SSG Michael H. Ollis.” – underlined Ambassador Schnepf.
“Our nations have a uniting conviction that freedom is a value to be earned and sustained even when it comes at great sacrifice. The Polish and American soldiers like Michael H. Ollis and Karol Cierpica, who served shoulder to shoulder, prove the old and famous saying ‘For Your Freedom and Ours.” – continued Ambassador Schnepf.
Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, of Staten Island, NY, died Aug. 28, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, NY. SSG Ollis has been posthumously decorated with the Silver Star, the third highest American combat award.
“SSG Ollis will always be a hero to us, and his valor will be remembered. Most importantly, however, Michal was a son, and brother. There is no greater gift than to give life to someone else, and in a sense this is what SSG Michael H. Ollis has given. This is the most profound and perfect example of who we are and what we stand for in the United States of America.” - stressed Congressman Grimm.
“What is even more profound is that the Polish soldier, lieutenant Karol Cierpica, who otherwise would never have fought in the war, had Poland not joined the US endeavor in Afghanistan, who lived in a different part of the world and had spoken a different language, he is here today with us precisely because of the sacrifice that SSG Michael H. Ollis has made.” – declared Congressman Grimm.
Following Congressman Grimm, Poland’s Defense, Military, Naval and Air Attaché Brigadier General Jarosław Stróżyk took the floor and asserted that Michal would always remain a symbol of Polish-American brotherhood. General Stróżyk also emphasized that he had assumed his post only a little more than a month ago, and when he was flying over the Atlantic, he was asked at the Ministry of National Defense to carry the two medals presented to Michael H. Ollis parents today. “It was the most important mission of my life.” – said Brigadier General Jarosław Stróżyk.
Brigadier General Kent Sabre, who was present at the ceremony on behalf of the Chief of Staff of the US Army, stated that this was not the first time that family and friends had gathered to cherish the memory of SSG Ollis – they had done so in Afghanistan, during the funeral service in Staten Island, NY. “Today’s ceremony at the Polish Consulate General here in the heart of Manhattan adds the international dimension to Michael’s sacrifice. There has been never been a more profound testimony of the trust between soldiers than what SSG Ollis had done.” – highlighted Brigadier General Sabre.
Michael’s parents, Robert and Linda Ollis, said they had been extremely honored by what had been said during the ceremony, and felt that they had gained more friends, this time in the Polish community.
The ceremony gathered over 100 people, mostly SSG Ollis’ family members and friends, and a sizable group of US soldiers, including the above mentioned Brigadier General Kent Sabre, Brigadier General Daniel Krumrei from the Illinois National Guard, and the Joint Service representation (Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy) from the United States Mission to the United Nations Military Staff Committee.SEE MORE