24-year-old Michael Ollis of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light) out of Fort Drum, was working with a group of Polish soldiers while in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda and ten suicide bombers breached their post on August 28, 2013, to attack their base. Nine of the bombers were stopped, but the tenth came out of hiding and proceeded to charge at Polish soldier Lt. Karol Cierpica. Ollis heroically stepped in to protect Cierpica and lost his own life to save a fellow soldier.
Cierpica never forgot the sacrifice Ollis made for him. When the Ollis family accepted the Army Gold Medal from Poland on his behalf, Lt. Karol and his pregnant wife Basha met with them and were there to thank him for everything they had done for him.
Michael’s parents, Bob and Linda, and his sisters, Kelly and Kimberly, met with Lt. Karol and Basha, and the two families. Kimberly explained that “[they] had a lot of questions for him when [they] met at the consulate,” as he was the last person to see [her] brother, to communicate with him.” The two families quickly became close over the memories.
The Polish soldier tried his best to repay the family for Ollis’ heroism. He runs the New York City Marathon every year to in memory of his friend, visits the family regularly, and named his son Michael after his friend.
“I feel lucky because other families who have lost a loved one don’t have a connection like this,” his sister Kelly explained. “We have someone who was there with Michael, the closest thing we can relate to.”
The bond and strength these two soldiers shared is rooted into their lives forever.
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