Honoring Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis: Deployed Soldiers Come Together With August 28 Workout
On August 28, members of the 2-22 Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, will take part in a workout honoring Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis, who died in 2013 while saving the life of a fellow soldier. This will be the debut of the workout, and it will feature roughly 50 American soldiers participating along with multiple foreign soldiers.
Remind me: SSG Ollis was a Non-Commissioned Officer in B Company 2-22 IN. On August 28, 2013, an attack on Forward Operating Base Ghazni in Afghanistan took place involving grenades, mortars, rockets, and a 3,000-pound bomb.
- SSG Ollis lost his life after heroically shielding Polish Army Lieutenant Karol Cierpica from a suicide bomber, which took place after the two soldiers stood side-by-side and defended the base armed with only their rifles. SSG Ollis incapacitated the insurgent, but the vest detonated and mortally wounded him.
- SSG Ollis posthumously received the Silver Star, which was upgraded in 2019 to the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army. SSG Ollis also posthumously received the Polish Armed Forces Gold Medal.
- In 2016, New York City introduced the Staff Sergeant Michael H. Ollis, an $85 million ferry that was the first vehicle added to the fleet since 2005. This was the first of three new ferries set to enter service in 2022, all known as the Ollis-class vehicles.
The workout: “Ollis” will be a 22-minute AMRAP consisting of six movements. Participants will complete a 200-meter run, 22 barbell deadlifts (185/125), 22 pull-ups, 22 burpees, 22 Russian kettlebell swings (53/35), and 22 walking lunges (left+right equals one rep).
The story behind the workout: When SFC Joshua Coronado and CPT Brian Quinn designed the workout, They focused on multiple important details. First, the number two represents the 22nd Infantry Regiment in which SSG. Ollis served. Additionally, they wanted to focus on effort level among the participants instead of skill or experience in higher technical movements.
- “This string of movements is going to keep an individual at a high heart rate throughout the workout,” SFC Coronado explained. “It can only scratch the surface of what it feels like to be in a combat situation like Michael found himself in. Adrenaline rushing, pushing through the fear, making hard choices, and pushing yourself beyond the normal threshold.”
- “Michael Ollis was in great shape during his time in service, always leading from the front. A 22-minute AMRAP was chosen so that individuals would have a number of rounds or repetitions to which they can strive to beat each time they do this, moving further, faster, and fighting harder each time in memoriam of Michael’s efforts that day.”
1SG Sean Kirk: “SSG Michael Ollis was known as a high-energy individual who brought his passion for life to everything he was involved with. He was a subject matter expert on anything related to the technical and tactical knowledge of being an Army Infantryman as well as having a passion for coaching and mentoring other Soldiers. He was highly regarded within the organization for his positive attitude and overall approachability.”
This respect for SSG Ollis is evident based on the number of participants in the inaugural workout. Dozens of deployed soldiers will test their physical skills, as they will work alongside a contingent from the Polish Army at the multinational compound, as a sign of the kinship between service members.
- This kinship also extends to a special ceremony that took place in March 2022. The Senior Academic High School at the College of Health Sciences received permission from SSG Ollis’ parents to name the school’s Uniformed Classes in his honor.
CPT Quinn: “The opportunity to honor SSG Michael Ollis is humbling, to say the least. Shortly after taking command of B Co., I learned about the heroic story of SSG Ollis. It was easy to sense the respect and pride all of our Soldiers take in SSG Ollis and his heroic actions. His plaque is hanging in our conference named in his honor and Fort Drum has named a shooting range in his honor, as well.”
“Every summer, our Battalion sends a large contingent of Soldiers to New York City to participate in the SSG Ollis 5k Run. Being a member of the CrossFit community, I simply assumed that he would have a Hero WOD named in his honor. I was shocked, one morning, as I was trying to decide on a workout to complete, having searched for his tribute workout, and found nothing.”
“Upon settling into our deployment, 1SG Kirk and I crafted the idea to plan a workout in his honor on the memorial of his death and to try submitting the tribute to CrossFit for official recognition. We were pleased to learn that some of our Polish armed forces partners at our current location had a connection to the officer that SSG Ollis saved in 2013. We were even more pleased to receive Michael’s father’s blessing. We love seeing and hearing our young Soldiers learn about the actions of SSG Ollis as they aspire to follow his example in leadership and personal courage.”
Get involved: There are multiple ways that members of the CrossFit community can show their support. They can take part in the workout on August 28 and spread the word on social media. Another option is making a donation to The SSG Michael Ollis Freedom Foundation at https://www.ssgollis.org/. This Foundation has a “Be Like Mike” College Scholarship that supports young men and women.
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