Family and friends gathered Saturday to say their final goodbyes to a Staten Island staff sergeant who died in Afghanistan. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.
As the American flag-draped casket carrying the body of 24-year-old Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis was carried down New Dorp Lane Saturday morning, friends and family said their final goodbyes to the fallen hero.
"It's really a remarkable thing, what he did for his country and what he did for us and the sacrifice that he did, not only giving up his life, but over the years of his service," said friend Bolivar Flores.
Neighborhood flags at half staff, military members in full uniform and bagpipers lining the street, all displays of reverence for the Staten Island native who was killed in the line of duty.
"He was a great NCO," said First Sergeant James Card of the U.S. Army. "Took care of his soldiers. Did everything that he was supposed to do. Definitely a guy I was trying to lobby to get into my platoon, help me out."
The Department of Defense says Ollis died while on his second tour in Afghanistan during an insurgent attack. His family says the Army told them he was killed trying to save others in his unit.
Friends are not surprised at Ollis' heroism. They say it was in him from a young age.
"I have this one story of us taking down a shed in my backyard and us kicking in the door and throwing in the bug bombs like we were throwing in grenades, like we were clearing a house," said friend Jimmy Carter. "Even at that point, we were still in high school, and that was Mike's dream, to always be in the Army, always to serve, always to follow in his father's footsteps."
"I can remember Mike's been playing soldier, G.I. Joe and all that good stuff since he was a little kid, and as he got older and the time came for it, he took the step and he put his hand up and he did what he had to do," Flores said.
Before joining the Army in 2006, Ollis grew up in New Dorp and attended Petrides High School.
On Saturday, the community came out in full force to honor one of their own who made them so proud.
"It's a shame, but if there was a lot of Michael Ollises in this world, we would be a better world, that's for sure," said family friend Danny Ingellis.
After the funeral, the motorcade drove by Ollis' home and then to Resurrection Cemetery, where he was laid to rest.