NYC agrees to host 5K for Afghanistan war hero

City Hall has agreed to greenlight a 5K run to honor an Afghanistan war hero — after organizers say their plans have been stalled by town amid COVID-19 restrictions.

The Staten Island race honoring Army Sgt. Michael Ollis is now prepared to go ahead after The Post reported on the event being unable to secure a permit with an government order from the mayor anticipated this week that may handle some crowd restrictions.

“The City has been in close contact with the family and we’ve made it clear that we’re committed to finding a solution here,” de Blasio spokesman Mitch Schwartz informed The Post on Sunday, saying the workplace was usually supportive of the race from early discussions.

“Looking forward to a safe and exciting event.”

Sgt. Ollis, a 24-year-old Staten Islander, was killed in Afghanistan in 2013 as he shielded a wounded Polish solider from an rebel suicide bomber’s blast.

Army Sgt. Michael Ollis, a Staten Island resident who was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Army Sgt. Michael Ollis, a Staten Island resident who was killed whereas serving in Afghanistan.
Steve White

The race for Ollis, launched in 2017, was considered one of a number of honors for the Gotham resident, as well as to town naming a Staten Island Ferry boat after him.

But organizers had stated they have been unable to safe a allow for this 12 months’s run, with cops pointing the finger at City Hall.

“It feels good,” Bob Ollis, the late sergeant’s dad, informed The Post, saying the mayor’s workplace gave an unofficial dedication to the occasion after some SI pols stepped in to assist.

“If they told us ‘no,’ that was fine, we totally understand,” Ollis stated. “It was this being limbo that was frustrating. I totally understood them with this virus … We sure as hell didn’t want people to get sick.”

Organizers are specializing in the unique deliberate date of June 13 with particulars such because the course, and if runners will likely be staggered, nonetheless to be ironed out. Statewide government orders limiting capability should be in impact.

Bob and Linda Ollis at the memorial to their son Michael in Staten Island.
Bob and Linda Ollis on the memorial to their son Michael in Staten Island.

“The sacrifice of SSG Michael Ollis needs to be lengthy remembered on this neighborhood, and I used to be joyful to play my half to deliver this occasion again this 12 months working with Assemblyman Michael Tannousis and on behalf of (Matteo), stated David Carr, spokesman for Republican City Councilman Matteo.

“The details will be worked out in the days ahead, and I thank the Mayor’s office for agreeing to work with the Ollis family to make this a reality.”

Tannousis stated in a press release stated the occasion commemorated a hometown hero who gave his life serving the nation.

“I’m happy to have partnered with my colleague in government, David Carr, in speaking with the Mayor’s Office and receiving their commitment that the event will go forward this year,” Tannousis stated.

West Point Cadets at the first 5K run for Sgt. Michael Ollis in Staten Island in 2017.
West Point cadets on the first 5K run for Sgt. Michael Ollis in Staten Island in 2017.

The race has grow to be a fixture within the suburban New Dorp neighborhood the place Ollis grew up and his dad and mom, Bob and Linda, nonetheless reside.

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

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

Ollis posthumously acquired 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.

A plaque at Michael Ollis' memorial.
A plaque at Michael Ollis’ memorial.
J.C. Rice for NY Post

When a truck bomb pierced the compound’s perimeter and enemy fighters burst by means of, 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 — carrying no physique armor — positioned himself to protect the Polish soldier as an approaching rebel detonated an explosive vest, in accordance to the Army’s official account of the engagement.

Entry charges for the 2019 run netted about $29,000 for the Ollis Foundation, in accordance to its tax filings — half of its whole consumption that 12 months.

The group spends the money to host vacation dinners for aged vets, prepare service canines for injured service members, ship care packages to US troops abroad, educate civics in borough faculties, and help army households in want.

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