Two medics representing the U.S. Army Special Operations Command were named the Army’s best medics after a grueling 72-hour competition at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Camp Bullis, Texas.
Staff Sgt. Noah Mitchell and Sgt. Derick Bosley from the 75th Ranger Regiment, representing the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, were named the winners of the Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. Best Medic Competition during a ceremony Friday at the Army Medical Department Center and School at Fort Sam Houston. Both Mitchell and Bosley are stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Second place went to Sgt. Matthew Evans and Sgt. Jarrod Sheets from the 10th Mountain Division, and third place went to Cpt. Jeremiah Beck and Sgt. Seyoung Lee from the 2nd Infantry Division. Awards were also presented for the top performing teams in different categories, including the best overall physical fitness score, medical skills score and marksmanship score.
The competition, hosted by Army Medical Command and conducted by AMEDDC&S, is designed to test Soldiers’ tactical medical proficiency, teamwork and leadership skills. The competing teams were graded in the areas of physical fitness – in addition to PT and combat water survival tests, they were required to walk up to 30 miles throughout the competition – tactical pistol and rifle marksmanship, land navigation and overall knowledge of medical, technical and tactical proficiencies.
Wesley P. Elliot of Army Medicine contributed to this report. Header image courtesy of AMEDDC&S.
Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis will be awarded the Silver Star posthumously at a ceremony later this month for his heroism earlier this year during an insurgent attack in Afghanistan.
His parents, Robert and Linda Ollis, will receive the award Oct. 24 at Fort Drum. Ollis, a 10th Mountain Division Soldier, will receive the honor for his actions while defending Forward Operating Base Ghanzi in eastern Afghanistan on Aug. 28.
According to Combined Joint Task Force-101, Ollis charged toward attackers that had breached the base in a “three-pronged attack.” He stepped between a Polish officer and a suicide bomber who was part of a “three-pronged attack” that breached the base. When the insurgent detonated his vest, the officer was shielded from harm. Ollis, however, was killed. He was 24.
Poland is scheduled to honor Ollis with the Polish Armed Forces Gold Medal on Nov. 8 in New York.
Ollis’ parents recently spoke to the Army News Service from their home in Staten Island, N.Y., to discuss their son’s life and accomplishments during a seven-year military career.
“We were overwhelmed, I think, first off. We just didn’t expect everything that has happened so far,” said Linda Ollis, who said the amount of love and support the family has received since Ollis’ death has been tremendous.
His parents remembered the “scrawny but tough boy” nicknamed “Mikey Muscles” by his friends, who climbed over everything, zoomed around the neighborhood on his Big Wheel, and had a calling to join his father and grandfathers in military service.
“I had some old Army fatigues that he used to wear running around the yard with them on,” said Robert Ollis, an Army Vietnam War veteran and, like his son, a Bronze Star recipient.
“From when he was a little boy, we knew what Mikey wanted to do. Michael wanted the armed service; he wanted to go into the Army,” he said.
And so, at age 17, his parents said, they signed for him and he enlisted. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan at the time of his death. He had also served a tour in Iraq.
He loved the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, his parents said. He would tell his parents that the violence in those countries was due to a small group of people, not the innocent men, women and children the Army is protecting.
Linda and Robert Ollis said they couldn’t have been prouder of their son, a caring and generous person, they said, who looked out for others and loved the Army and serving the nation.
He was a great noncommissioned officer who was just accepted into the prestigious Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, they said.
That day in Afghanistan, Ollis charged toward danger to defend the base after it was infiltrated by attackers, the Combined Joint Task Force report said. The attack also claimed the life of a Polish Soldier and wounded several coalition Soldiers.
During the attack, a vehicle-borne explosive device detonated and 10 insurgents wearing suicide vests breached the perimeter. Additionally, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, grenades and small arms fire from the enemy rained down from the east, west and north, according to the CJTF.
Ollis, with the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, checked on his men, and then headed “directly to the sound of gunfire,” joining up with a Polish officer and a Special Forces team.
By then, 8 of the 10 insurgents had already been killed. Then the 9th was killed.
The 10th insurgent emerged from behind a group of containers; Ollis was the closest Soldier to the attacker. As Ollis moved toward the insurgent, the narrative said, he “stepped in front of the Polish officer, thereby blocking him from the insurgent.” When the insurgent’s suicide vest detonated, the Polish officer was shielded, but Ollis was killed.
That heroic act, the Army said, saved the life of the Polish officer.
“In emotional interviews with investigators, the Polish officer repeatedly praised Ollis and credited him with saving his life,” CJTF said.
Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, commander, International Security Assistance Force, Joint Forces Command, praised Ollis as a great Soldier and said the battle was a “tough fight,” but the defenders of the base did “extraordinarily well.”
“Unfortunately, we lost a great American there from 10th Mountain Division in that attack,” he said.
Darren Bean, an equipment specialist with Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, or PM SCIE, has been working on a better way for Soldiers to carry the M320 40mm grenade launcher.
The detachable M320, named one of the Army’s top 10 inventions of 2009, comes equipped with a sling to carry it when not mounted to the M4 carbine or M16 rifle, according to Bean. At seven pounds, it provides a lightweight and lethal addition to a Soldier’s arsenal. The M320 began replacing the M203 in 2009.
Bean has been at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Massachusetts since November 2012 collecting data for the M320GL Holster Soldier Enhancement Program, or SEP.
“It was a one-point sling, so (the weapon) was kind of bouncing around,” Bean said. “If you went down to the ground, you were dragging it through the dirt. Most people felt that protection was needed at some level because they were just getting dragged in the dirt and pounded on.”
Bean said some Soldiers wanted a holster for the M320, which weighs seven pounds with the butt stock.
The SEP allowed the purchase of enough holsters to equip a brigade combat team. He said the “buy-try-decide” concept allows the Army to test the functionality of equipment without spending a lot of time on research and development.
Bean found three commercial vendors who make M320 holsters, so PM SCIE acquired 167 of each.
Bean put the holsters in the hands of a dozen Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., who went through a set of standardized tests in mid May. The Soldiers filled out surveys after the testing.
The testing was to make sure it was realistic to go forward, Bean said.
“Now we can actually test them with an entire brigade,” he added.
Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) from Fort Drum, N.Y., the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Vermont National Guard, and Soldiers in Afghanistan are currently evaluating the holsters. The Consumer Research Team at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center will collect data. PM SCIE officials will then make a recommendation to the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning by the beginning of fiscal year 2014.
The Army announced Tuesday it is cutting the number of brigade combat teams from 45 to 33 during the next four years as part of a major force reduction that shifts thousands of Soldiers throughout the country and moves the Army closer to spending cuts outlined by legislation from 2011.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno announced the cuts, which are part of a reduction of force strength from its current level of 541,000 to 490,000 by 2017 to meet the $487 billion in cuts mandated in the budget control act.
The Army had previously identified two brigades in Germany for elimination. On Tuesday, Odierno identified 10 other s throughout the nation that will be dissolved by 2017. He said selections for the brigade cuts were made based on various factors including geography, cost and local economic impacts. Odierno warned further cutbacks could be in the future if full sequestration continues.
A brigade is normally comprised of about 3,500 Soldiers. Some can be as large as 5,000.
While 10 brigades will be eliminated from the Army, some of the components from those brigades will be put into remaining BCTs. In particular, Odierno said, a third maneuver battalion, and additional engineer and fires capabilities will be added to each armor and infantry brigade combat team.
That, Odierno said, will make those remaining BCTs “more lethal, more flexible, and more agile.”
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell said that the changes to the brigades make the remaining BCTs more capable.
“We had the ability to make the brigades more capable,” he said.
Campbell said that some Soldiers will need to move as part of the changes. But for the most part, moves will be from one unit on an installation to another.
“A majority of that will stay on that post,” Campbell said. “But we will have to add some, (in) some places. Some will have to move.”
With the expected cuts in BCTs, the Army will be left with a mix of 12 armored BCTs, 14 infantry BCTs, and seven Stryker BCTs. Those numbers could change in the future. Campbell said he feels confident that the brigades identified already would be the ones to be “reorganized.” But if the Army finds, in the future, that it needs a different mix of brigades than what has already been identified — some existing brigades might instead be changed to meet the new requirements.
Brigades marked for reorganization include:
• The 4th Stryker BCT, 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
• The 3rd Armored BCT, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.
• The 4th Infantry BCT, 1st Armored Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
• The 4th Infantry BCT, 101st Air Assault, Fort Campbell, Ky.
• The 3rd Infantry BCT, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
• The 3rd Infantry BCT, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
• The 4th Infantry BCT (Airborne), 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
• The 2nd Armored BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
• The 4th Armored BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
• The 3rd Infantry BCT, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.
C. Todd Lopez of the Army News Service contributed to this report.
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