Giving Back

Fallen NJ Hero Honored for His Sacrifice Saving Polish Comrade in Afghanistan

Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis
Statue honoring the fallen soldier.

For many Americans, Memorial Day is a day away from school and work. It's the unofficial start of summer across the United States and means picnics, parades and pool openings. However, for military families Memorial Day takes on a different meaning, especially those who have lost servicemen and women in the line of duty.

Memorial Day began following the American Civil War. Then, it was known as Decoration Day with the graves of soldiers being decorated with flowers and flags. Unlike Veterans Day, which honors the military service of all, Memorial Day is a tribute to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

On this last Monday in May 2017, a statue will be unveiled at American Legion Post 253 in Spotswood NJ. The statue will depict Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis, the brother of Spotswood resident Kim Ollis-Loschiavo. Her beloved brother was killed on August 28, 2013 in Afghanistan, just two months before he was due home. He was 24 years old.

Sign Up for E-News

Ollis' operating base was attacked by insurgent forces. The soldier stepped in front of a wounded Polish officer to shield him from an insurgent outfitted in a suicide vest. The Staff Sergeant, who always wanted to be a soldier like his dad and grandfathers, did not survive. Ollis was awarded the Polish Gold Star Medal of Honor. It's the highest military award the Polish government bestows. The Staten Island native was also awarded the Afghani Star. Posthumously, the United States government honored Ollis' sacrifice and service with the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Audie Murphy Medallion.

Spotswood Mayor Ed Seely and Councilwoman Marge Drozd were instrumental in helping Ollis-Loschiavo bring the statue of her brother to American Legion Post 253. The statue was designed by Staten Island artist, Gregory Perillo and sculpted by Toms River's Brian Hanlon.

"My family was raised to enjoy all of the traditions every American enjoys despite the fact that every male role model on both sides of my family has served in the military since the Civil War," Ollis-Loschiavo said in a recent interview. "Memorial Day growing up has always been a celebration of summer; soccer tournaments and spending time with family and friends. When my brother enlisted, we continued our festivities and also took part in Memorial Day parades and honoring Military officers during Fleet Week. My father, who served in the Vietnam War, is quite active with the VFW and American Legion on Staten Island. I have also participated in runs to honor and remember our Service members and their ultimate sacrifice. Since my brothers passing, we have, as as family, worked to tell his story and teach other Americans about Gold Star Families. These actions hopefully will build awareness to educate Americans about the strength and fragility of democracy and the importance to protect it at all costs."

Gold Star Families are relatives of armed forces members that have died in the line of duty. While the term became widespread following the Iraqi War, it actually dates all the way back to World War I. The United States Army refers to grieving family members as "Gold Star Survivors." During the recent presidential election, former President Barrack Obama was quoted as saying that "No one has given more for our freedom and our security than our Gold Star families."

Ollis enlisted in the Army at the tender age of 17 upon his graduation from Petrides High School in Staten Island. However, Spotswood was a second home to the soldier as he returned to the borough to spend time with his sister and her family.

"Being able to share Michael's story and his statute has been an overwhelming experience," Ollis-Loschiavo continued. "I am so grateful to our town for welcoming my family and treating us like we have grown up here all of our lives. My family is truly blessed to be accepted into such a patriotic, public serving community that values serving others before themselves. My brother used to visit our town often since the age of 11, and continued to 'come home' to Spotswood on every leave he had. I am blessed to have such fond memories sharing my hometown with him. Michael was a familiar face at the Cambridge Inn and Ryan's Pub socializing with other service members who grew up in the area."

Ollis' ultimate sacrifice received both national and international attention at the time of his death. The family set up the SSG Michael Ollis Freedom Foundation in his memory and to support veterans, their families and veteran-related causes. They will hold their first 5K run and festival on June 10 in New Dorp, New York.

"I am truly grateful to Mayor Ed Seely for allowing us to display Michael's statute and share his heroic story", Ollis-Loschiavo said. "I am also grateful to Marge Drozd and Travis and Grace Fryowicz for supporting the idea to get Michael's story told in town."

Ollis' statue will be unveiled in a special ceremony on Monday, May 29 at 2 p.m. American Legion Post 253 on 50 DeVoe Avenue in Spotswood just as Spotswood's annual Memorial Day Parade kicks off at Schweitzer Mauduet on Main Street.

"I hope every American realizes freedom is a choice that should not be taken for granted," Ollis-Loschiavo said. "If it was not for our military and their families, who else would step up to defend our freedoms?"

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


If You Can Answer "Yes" To Just One of These Questions Come to Morris County's Health, Fitness & Fun Fest This Sat. From 12 -3 p.m.

March 22, 2018

1. Are you ready to get out of the house and have fun?
Morris County's Health, Fitness & Fun Fest takes place Saturday, March 24, from noon - 3 at Randolph Middle School.

2. Do you have a soft spot for furry animals?
The Middle School PAWS Club ...

The 8th Annual Dodgeball Charity Challenge to Take Place Tuesday March 27 at Randolph High School

March 23, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ-The Dodgeball Charity Challenge  is RAM RAC's biggest fundraiser. 

With the money raised from ticket sales and team/player entry fees, RAM RAC makes monetary donations to the winning team's charity of choice, and uses the rest of the funds raised to help fund projects at the HS that benefit the physical welfare of not only the student-athletes, but all ...

Morristown Happenings: Things to do in Morristown this Weekend

March 10, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  It's been a rough week for residents due to power outages and storm related damages. Maybe a little distraction? Morristown has parades, dances, farmers markets, crafts, and much more this weekend.  


Friday March 9

Celebrate Dr. Seuss (rescheduled from 3/9); Morris County Library; Celebrity Readers from 3:30pm - 4:45pm

Morristown High ...

Distracted Driving Enforcement and Education Campaign UDrive. UText. UPay. to be carried out locally from April 1 – April 21

March 22, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ-- Law enforcement officers from the Randolph Police Department will be cracking down on distracted drivers during April as part of New Jersey’s UDrive. UText. UPay. enforcement campaign.

Beginning April 1 and running through April 21, the high visibility law enforcement initiative will target motorists who engage in dangerous distracted driving behaviors such ...

Randolph Seniors Assist in Student-Led "March for Our Lives" to Take Place in Morristown, Mar. 24

March 21, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Morristown and surrounding-area students are planning to participate in a movement called 'March for Our Lives' taking place on Saturday, March 24. Part of a nationwide movement to pass common-sense gun legislation in America, the students plan on gathering in several places across the state of New Jersey, including Morristown, Montclair, Maplewood, ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Primrose School of Randolph, Randolph

Open House


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Mountain Lakes Club, Mountain Lakes

Lakeland Youth Symphony 60th Anniversary Gala

Arts & Entertainment

Randolph Speech and Debate Team Attend Harvard Invitational

March 15, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Speech and Debate team drove up to Harvard to compete at the 44th Annual Harvard National Forensics Tournament on February 16-19. Bringing in its largest group of students in years, – around forty competitors – the team was quite successful. 

The Harvard invitational is the largest forensics tournaments of the season, bringing in hundreds of teams ...

Delayed Opening for Randolph Township Schools on Thursday

March 21, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Township School District has announced  that all schools will have a 90 minute delayed opening due to the forecast for icy conditions.

Bus pickups will be delayed 90 minutes. 

This means that Randolph High School will start the day at 9 a.m., Randolph Middle School at 9:35 a.m. and Center Grove, Fernbrook, Ironia and Shongum ...

Randolph Athletic Hall of Fame Elects The Class of 2018

March 22, 2018

At its March meeting, the Randolph Athletic Hall of Fame Committee elected the following to be inducted as the Class of 2018.  The Induction ceremony will take place in October.  Exact dates and details will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

Male Athlete  Bill Cuff, wrestling, 1973
Male Athlete: Glenn Guerin, wrestling, 1973
Female Athlete: Janet Kerrigan, ...

Randolph Recreation Wrestlers Shine at NJ Kids State Championships

RANDOLPH, NJ- 9 Randolph Rec Wrestlers qualified for the NJ Kid’s Wrestling Championship Wrestling Tournament this weekend.

With 12 Wrestling Mats and 1000+ Wrestlers, this 2 day event in Trenton is considered one of the toughest in the country.

"The results below are monumental for any program or club and are a testament to ...

Spring Break Make- Up Day Planning Suggestion to Randolph Board of Education and Administration

March 19, 2018

As a former school administrator, I was in charge of making the school’s yearly calendar. 

I worked with the staff to determine the calendar each March for the coming school year.

Each year we including a statement explaining specifically, the manner in which snow days (over 4) would be made up.  

This method of planning provides the students, families, and staff with ...

CCM Cultivates Women in the Field of Horticulture and Landscape

March 21, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ —Men primarily work in the fields of landscape, design and maintenance. Change agents in the field, Brian Oleksak, chair of the Department of Landscape and Horticulture Technology (LHT), County College of Morris (CCM), and Susan Cohan, adjunct professor, and other LHT faculty are spearheading efforts for women to take advantage of the many opportunities these industries can ...

President of Randolph Chamber of Commerce One of Many To Be Honored at the Boy Scouts of America 23rd Annual Morris County Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner

WHIPPANY, NJ- Boy Scouts of America, Patriots’ Path Council will be honoring local community members at the Boy Scouts of America 23rd Annual Morris County Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner to be held on the evening of Thursday, April 19th at The Hanover Marriott in Whippany at 6:30 pm.  This year’s honorees are Reynaldo Caudillo, Bruce Jones, Michael Lupton, Ron Morano, Lou ...

Local Boy Scouts Invite Alumni to Gathering on March 19th

Were you a Cub Scout?  Did you earn the rank of Eagle Scout? Maybe you served as a volunteer at one point? Then this is the event for you.  All former Scouts and vounteers are welcome to attend the  Black River District Alumni Gatheirng. The event is hosted by the Patriots’ Path Council Alumni Committee and being held on Monday, March 19 at 7:00 pm at the Rockaway River Barn ...

Atlantic Health System’s Dr. Linda Gillam Recognized with American College of Cardiology’s Top Honor

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The American College of Cardiology (ACC) has recognized Linda D. Gillam, MD, MPH, FACC, the Dorothy and Lloyd Huck Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Morristown Medical Center/Atlantic Health System, with the 2018 Gifted Educator Award.

The Gifted Educator Award is presented to a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology who has demonstrated innovative, outstanding ...

Health Alert: Child with Measles Traveled to Newark Airport on March 12

TRENTON, NJ — If you were at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and should contact your health care provider.

The N.J. Department of Health has issued a public health alert after a child with a confirmed case of measles — a highly contagious disease — arrived in Terminal B at Newark Liberty ...

National Student Walk Out: MCST Students Have Had #Enough

March 21, 2018

DENVILLE, NJ- On Wednesday March 14, nearly one million teenagers across the country stood up and walked out of school as part of a nationwide protest calling upon Congress to take action against gun violence. I am proud to have been one of them.

Undeterred by the small size of the school, my friends and classmates at Morris County School of Technology in Denville, NJ participated in the ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


National Student Walk Out: MCST Students Have Had #Enough

March 21, 2018

DENVILLE, NJ- On Wednesday March 14, nearly one million teenagers across the country stood up and walked out of school as part of a nationwide protest calling upon Congress to take action against gun violence. I am proud to have been one of them.

Undeterred by the small size of the school, my friends and classmates at Morris County School of Technology in Denville, NJ participated in the ...