On Friday, I finished up a 15-mile run. I was feeling really proud of myself. I showered, got into work and checked in on email and social media where I saw this news:
Michael Ollis, a childhood friend of mine was killed in action in Afghanistan.
His father was my coach. The first coach I ever had that said these words to me "If you want to play college soccer, you can get there. Let's do what it takes." And then he helped me to do exactly that.
His daughter Kelly and I spent every Saturday and Sunday together playing soccer. And you know who was always there? Michael.
During every practice and game. Meal and party. Little Mikey was there. He was 10ish years younger than us but he was hilarious and we all loved him like he was our brother.
I remember hearing he was going in the Army and going to the Middle East. Every time there was a major conflict or attack, I would be scouring the news for a piece of information about him. Hoping for the best. Every time he came home and the family would post pictures on Facebook of him,I would breathe a deep breath and be so glad he was safe.
On Friday, a classmate from hs posted the news of his death of Facebook and it was the first thing I saw. It felt like I got hit with a bat.
I am so deeply sad. Mikey was killed in Afghanistan during a battle with an IED and small arms fire. He was only 24 years old and had recently been awarded the Bronze Star. He was truly a hero.
With my own father having retired from the Army, I know the sacrifices families make to protect our freedom. But never have I felt it so acutely as I walk around my town in relative safety and freedom.
I am so proud to have known and loved Mikey Ollis. He is a American Hero.
As my father said yesterday when I spoke to him, "You don't get to choose those whom you fight for. We stand for freedom and that what he was doing." It's a different life and one that is hard to explain or understand when our biggest problem is that we ran out of coffee filters and forgot to buy more. In other parts of the world, life or death is actually being worked out daily. Simple basic necessities are being fought for on behalf of innocent people. And we have 24-year-old men standing up and dying and fighting for just these people.
I am so proud SSGT. Michael Ollis. I am so sad for Bob, Linda, Kelly and Kim.
I feel a million miles away because I am.
These are the times when it is hard to have moved away and to have lived a deep life with those you lived amongst.
I can't wait to get up there for the NYC Marathon and hug their necks.