Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Family, Friends Honor Fallen Staten Island Soldier With Vigil

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One week after an insurgent attack took the life of a Staten Island soldier, his family and friends remembered him as a hero at a vigil Wednesday night. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

Hundreds of people paid tribute to Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis at a vigil Wednesday night.

His high school math teacher, friends and family remembered Ollis as caring, kind and fun-loving.

"Always a gentleman, a loving son, a friend and so much more," said Danielle Cundari, Ollis' high school math teacher.

His two older sisters spoke for the family at the vigil.

"Have my brother kind of be a little bit of a place in our heart and live the way he lived," said Kimberly Loschiavo, Ollis' sister.

Ollis' family doesn't yet know exactly what happened last Wednesday.

The Army is still investigating but says insurgents in Afghanistan attacked Ollis' unit. His parents have said his battalion commander told them he died saving many lives.

"Selflessness," Loschiavo said. "He never, ever thought about himself. He always put someone else first."

They asked the crowd to take home something from how he lived to make their lives better.

Those at the Great Kills Veterans Memorial gathered to send the Ollis family their own message.

"We want to make sure that the family knows they have support," said one person at the vigil.

Ollis' father, Robert, a Vietnam veteran, reacted to that Monday in an interview with NY1.

What they've done and what they're doing to comfort us, to protect us, this is America," Robert Ollis said. "This is what America is supposed to be like."

"When the dust clears, and all that is said and done, the world will know the true hero you are and were to this American country," Cundari said.

Michael Ollis enlisted into the Army at the age of 17. He served one tour of duty in Iraq and was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed in action at the age of 24.

Funeral arrangements are pending the return of his remains.

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