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Army soldier’s Silver Star posthumously upgraded to Distinguished Service Cross

Robert Ollis, the father of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, and Kimberly Loschiavo, the sister of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, posthumously receive the Distinguished Service Cross from General James C. McConville, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, June 8, 2019 at the Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis VFW Post on Staten Island, New York. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jerod Hathaway)
June 12, 2019

A U.S. Army soldier’s Silver Star was posthumously upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross to recognize his ultimate sacrifice in 2013.

Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis was awarded posthumously by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, who delivered the award to Ollis’ father and sister during a June 8 ceremony on Staten Island, Military.com reported.

In 2013, Ollis sacrificed his own life in a suicide bombing to save the life of Polish Army officer Karol Cierpica in Afghanistan.

McConville said, “Every generation has its heroes. Michael Ollis is one of ours.”

On August 23, 2013, while Ollis was serving in the 10th Mountain Division’s Company B, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, enemy troops attacked Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ghazni with “vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, suicide vests, indirect fire, and small-arms fire,” according to the Army’s medal citation

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After commanding his troops to a bunker, Ollis approached the enemy troops. This was when he ran into Polish Army Lt. Karol Cierpica. Unfortunately, neither Ollis nor Cierpica were wearing body armor.

The citation said, “Together, they moved toward the point of attack without their personal protection equipment and armed only with their rifles.”

The pair approached allied forces and planned an attack to force the enemy from the perimeter.

The citation added, “While under continuous small-arms indirect and rocket-propelled grenade fires, Staff Sergeant Ollis and his comrades moved from position to position, engaging the enemy with accurate and effective fire.”

While this was taking place, an enemy approached, firing at Ollis and Cierpica.

The citation goes on to say, “With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Ollis positioned himself between the insurgent and [Cierpica], who had been wounded in both legs and was unable to walk. Ollis fired on the insurgent and incapacitated him, but as he approached the insurgent, the insurgent’s suicide vest detonated, mortally wounding him.”

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McConville said, “I was privileged to serve with Michael and Karol when I was the 101st Airborne Division commanding general in Regional Command East while they were deployed. Their actions that day in August against a very determined enemy saved many, many lives.”

Ollis’ Army career began in 2006. He trained at Fort Hamilton, New York and Fort Benning, Georgia, and was later assigned to Smith Barracks, Germany and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

He deployed to the Middle East twice — April 2008-May 2009 in Iraq and June 2010-May 2011 in Afghanistan. His unit deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom in January 2013,” according to his memorial tribute.

Ollis was 24 when he died.