5K for Staten Island soldier halted by de Blasio COVID rules

His battlefield bravery was so heroic that the town named a Staten Island Ferry boat after him.

But it wasn’t sufficient for Mayor de Blasio to loosen up on his coronavirus rules.

The mother and father of Army Sgt. Michael Ollis, the 24-year-old Staten Islander killed in Afghanistan in 2013 as he shielded a wounded Polish soldier from an rebel suicide bomber’s blast, say they obtained a de facto denial this week on a allow for the annual 5k run that honors their hometown hero son.

“We have almost 500 people signed up already,” Bob Ollis stated of the June 13 occasion, the first supply of revenue for the nonprofit Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis Freedom Foundation.

“The local police precinct wants to help us,” Ollis instructed The Post. “They’re saying, ‘Bob, if it was up to us, no problem.’ It’s above them. Who’s stopping it — the Mayor’s Office.”

City Hall didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis.
Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis died shielding a Polish soldier from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2013.
EPA

The verbal denial got here per week after the town backtracked on its initial refusal to allow one other main army occasion, the borough’s century-old Memorial Day Parade, and let plans for the May 31 commemoration go forward.

“It’s been a head-scratcher for us why an event held outdoors on an open road would be any kind of problem,” stated Andrew Guido, a member of the muse’s all-volunteer race committee.

Organizers would stagger the start of the race, limiting every wave to 30 members, to unfold out the group in step with COVID protocols.

Linda and Bob Ollis at the roadside memorial to their son.
Linda and Bob Ollis are the administrators of the Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis Freedom Foundation.
J.C.Rice

The race, which launched in 2017, has turn into a fixture within the suburban New Dorp neighborhood the place Ollis grew up and his mother and father, Bob and Linda, nonetheless reside.

In previous years, as much as 1,000 individuals have taken to native streets, jogging and strolling previous the everlasting show of 24 American flags — one for every year of the younger infantryman’s life — that serves as a poignant reminder of his sacrifice at Forward Operating Base Ghazni in japanese Afghanistan.

Soldiers from Fort Drum, dwelling of the tenth Mountain Division, journey to Staten Island every year to participate, and runners take part nearly from as distant as Germany and Afghanistan.

Sgt. Michael Ollis' medals, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis’s medals, not pictured are the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross and Poland’s Army Gold Medal.
J.C.Rice

Ollis posthumously obtained the US Army’s Distinguished Service Cross and Poland’s Army Gold Medal for saving the lives of his whole platoon and of Lt. Karol Cierpica, a Polish soldier he had by no means met earlier than the bottom got here underneath assault.

When a truck bomb pierced the compound’s perimeter and enemy fighters burst by, Ollis ordered his males to security in a close-by bunker. But when Cierpica was wounded in each legs and left unable to stroll, Ollis — sporting no physique armor — positioned himself to protect the Polish soldier as an approaching rebel detonated an explosive vest, in response to the Army’s official account of the engagement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has taken up the cause for a Medal of Honor.

Army Sgt. Michael Ollis (right) and Sgt. Christopher Wilson (left).
Nearly 500 runners have signed as much as take part on this yr’s 5k honoring Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis.
AP

“Before Mike left for his last deployment, he told me, ‘Dad, I’m responsible for these guys. It’s my job to get them home,’” Bob Ollis recalled.

“And he did it. Every one of them came home — except for him.”

Entry charges for the 2019 run netted about $29,000 for the Ollis Foundation, in response to its tax filings — half of its whole consumption that yr. The group spends the money to host vacation dinners for aged vets, practice service canine for injured service members, ship care packages to US troops abroad, educate civics in borough faculties, and help army households in want.

The Staten Island Ferry named for SSG Michael H. Ollis.
Staten Island named a ferry in honor of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis.

In 2016, after 5,700 borough residents petitioned de Blasio to christen the Staten Island Ferry fleet’s latest addition in Ollis’s honor, the mayor hosted an emotional ceremony to announce the plan. The new boat is due for delivery in June.

Ollis “embodied the very best of our city,” the mayor stated on the time, the Ollises standing by his aspect.

“Being a Vietnam vet, I’ve lost so many people whose names just disappeared,” Bob Ollis stated on the announcement. “When Michael passed, I refused to let that happen.”

De Blasio nodded and stated, “Amen.”

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