A close-knit Staten Island community is mourning the loss of one of their own, a soldier killed in the line of duty earlier this week. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Burbank Avenue is a quiet, tree-lined street. American flags wave outside nearly every home, sprinkling the landscape with patriotism.
Early Friday morning, a family friend came to lower the flag outside the home of Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis, a tribute to the fallen soldier who died in Afghanistan Wednesday.
The family friend didn't want to talk on camera about the death of the 24-year-old, but a neighbor, Joey Misiti, did.
"This is like a family. It's like somebody in the family just passed away, got killed," Misiti said. "Everybody, it looked like in minutes, really, literally minutes, everybody knew. And everybody's torn apart by it."
The Defense Department said that Ollis was killed in an attack by insurgents.
He joined the army in 2006 and served in Iraq and Afghanistan before re-deploying to Afghanistan at the start of this year, in what was supposed to be his last tour. Family friends said he had about a month left before he would have been sent home.
Ollis earned numerous medals and commendations, including a Bronze Star.
"This is what he always wanted to do. That's what he loved. And this is what happened," said neighbor Mary Ann Misiti. "It's just sad. I don't even know what else to say."
Misiti said her children grew up with Michael, known to them as "Mikey," and said he liked playing manhunt, dressing up for Halloween and being outdoors in the summer.
She said her thoughts are with his parents - out of town when they got the news about their son's death - and his two sisters, who live out of state.
"I can't even imagine what they're going through right now," she said. "All I can say is, Burbank has an angel. That's all I can say."
Ollis graduated from the Michael J. Petrides School in 2006. His classmates started a Facebook page in his memory.
In his senior class yearbook, his parents submitted a message of congratulations and a note, that reads, in part, "...we know you will continue to be a source of pride for us as you go on to serve your country in the armed forces."