I have your back How an American soldier became an international hero

Tom Sileo

Book - 2024

"The story of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, who became an international hero for his courage and selflessness. Ever since he was a young boy growing up on the streets of Staten Island, New York, Michael Ollis wanted to be a soldier. Inspired by his father, who fought in Vietnam, Mike's deep desire to serve was cemented on the day his beloved city was attacked. From 9/11 onward, Mike's one and only mission was to save lives. After two tense combat deployments, Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis earned the US Army's coveted Ranger tab and set his sights on the perilous mountains of eastern Afghanistan. On August 28, 2013, Mike was suddenly caught in the middle of a massive and unprecedented Taliban assault on a coalition m...ilitary base. Rather than retreat to his bunker, Mike decided to fight. He then encountered a Polish army officer who needed his help. Despite being surrounded by enemy fighters while running low on ammunition, Mike promised the foreign soldier that no matter what, he would have his back. For his final act of bravery, Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis would not only receive the Distinguished Service Cross from his own country, but the highest honor that Poland can bestow upon an allied soldier. As an American warrior, Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis had all of our backs. This vivid and visceral account of Mike's selfless 24-year journey will motivate us to "live like Mike" by always putting family, friends and country first"--

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New York : St. Martin's Press 2024.
Main Author
Tom Sileo (author)
First edition
Physical Description
245 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 22 cm
  • Preface: American Man
  • Chapter 1. All Abdut Mike
  • Chapter 2. Hello, New Life
  • Chapter 3. Hooah!
  • Chapter 4. Brdthers-In-Arms
  • Chapter 5. Dllie's Got It
  • Chapter 6. European Vacation
  • Chapter 7. Strike Force
  • Chapter 8. Every Secono Counts
  • Chapter 9. The Big Leagues
  • Chapter 10. Triple Deuce
  • Chapter 11. Stay Ready
  • Chapter 12. Beoe Pilndwal Twoich Pleców
  • Chapter 13. Deeds Not Words
  • Epilogue: Live Like Mike
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Kirkus Book Review

The inspiring story of a boy who yearned to be a soldier, achieved his dream, served three tours with distinction, and died a hero. Military historian Sileo, author of Three Wise Men and Brothers Forever, chronicles the life of Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis (1988-2013), who idolized his Vietnam veteran father, played soldier obsessively in childhood, and enlisted in the Army at age 17 with his parents' approval. For a school assignment at age 13, he wrote, "I want to join the US Army. I want to jump out of airplanes and helicopters." He clearly loved the life of an infantry grunt, impressing superiors as well as those who served with him. The author delivers an entertaining account of Ollis' service, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The end came in the summer of 2013 when Afghan insurgents invaded his base, and he saved the life of a Polish officer by shooting an attacking suicide bomber but died when the bomb exploded. The final 50 pages describe what followed: delivery of the tragic news; funeral ceremonies; testimonials from friends, fellow soldiers, and high officials, including then-President Obama; many awards; and subsequent memorials. Readers may be inclined to skim Sileo's long excerpts from personal letters, speeches, and official condolences. The author narrates his tale with evenhandedness and a refreshing lack of empty declarations of patriotism, so pacifist readers curious to experience the life of an American warrior, the nuts and bolts of training, family life, horseplay, camaraderie, and battlefield fireworks will be satisfied. "Not only was I in awe of the young soldier's willingness to sacrifice his life to save a foreign service member he had only just met," writes Sileo, "but also by the way his story had quickly inspired so many, both in Poland and the United States." A well-deserved eulogy for an American warrior. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.