As before, my thoughts are with Andy's wife and family, and the families and friends of CPT Tom Casey, who was killed with Andy, and SFC William Beaver, who was wounded.
Here's a picture of Andy and his unit, from their last newsletter*:
CPT Casey is in the back, second from the left; SFC Beaver is beside him, holding the Merry Christmas sign; Andy is fifth from the left, holding the other end of the sign and smiling.
I think Andy would be astonished at the amount of attention his last post received. He could be pretty self-effacing that way: he was about as far as it's possible to be from the sort of blogger who writes because he's convinced that the world is just waiting for his pearls of wisdom. Andy was never sure what kind of impact, if any, what he wrote had. I think he wrote partly because he liked it, but partly because he thought: even if you don't know that anyone will read what you write, all you can do is try your best to put reasonable arguments out there, in the hope that somehow, somewhere, they might do some good.
That was the kind of person Andy was.
He'd be embarrassed by all the fuss, and genuinely surprised, but deep down, I think it would have meant the world to him. I just wish he could be here to see it.
[Update: I meant to include this comment from one of the men in Andy's unit, who was with him on his final mission:
"Major Olmsted died while attempting to get the enemy to surrender so we would not have to kill them.
Captain Casey could not leave his commander on the ground.
They are the bravest men I have known. They are both heroes. We will carry their example and continue the mission."
And while I'm at it: I should have included links to the post Andy wrote on his reasons for going to Iraq; and to his old blog, where you can read a lot of his earlier writing. You can find some more of his work on this blog, both under his own name and as G'Kar.
Some of you have wondered why he blogged here under both names, and why we weren't clearer about that fact. Andy stopped blogging here (and on his old site) because he discovered that by doing so, he was violating a DoD regulation (as he describes here.) He loved blogging, though, and so, some months later, he asked whether he could post under another name. I think I made some feeble attempt to talk him out of it, but my heart wasn't in it: I loved what he wrote, and I always wanted to see more of it.
On the day he died, he was planning to write a post when he returned from his mission, on Edwards' proposal to terminate all training missions in Iraq. I had no idea what he planned to say, and I couldn't wait to read it.
Also: in comments to the last thread, Gary mentioned Andy's silly side. Here, for what it's worth, is a little memorial to his silliness. It's not by miles the best I have, but I don't have the heart to go looking for better ones; this one leapt to mind since it's from the day before he died. The relevant background: Andy and I were chatting on Adium; some calamity had befallen the heat in Andy's room, and he had mentioned being quite cold; I had gone to put my laundry in the dryer, and had just returned.
Andy: *waves to laundry*
Me: *laundry would wave back, but has been trapped in dryer*
Andy: *runs to free laundry*
Me: *laundry thinks: our saviour!*
Me: *laundry offers toasty warmness to Andy*
Andy: *hugs laundry*
Me: *laundry hugs Andy*
Me: *though, in fairness, laundry would hug anyone who let it out of horrid dryer*
The fact that no one will ever, spontaneously, write *hugs laundry* to me again seems unimaginably sad.]
[Further Update: From the Rocky Mountain News:
""They were pursuing some insurgents," Casey's brother, Jeffrey, said. "Major Olmsted got out of his vehicle and was pleading with these three individuals to stop and surrender so that the team would not have to fire upon them and kill them."
"Unfortunately, there were snipers in the area, and apparently that's when Major Olmsted was hit," Jeffrey Casey added. "He didn't want to kill these individuals. He was trying to save their lives."
After the gunfire erupted, Thomas Casey went to help Olmsted, thinking that the three suspected insurgents were responsible for the shooting, his brother said.
"That's when he took his bullet," Jeffrey Casey said. "The fact that a sniper round caught him in the neck . . . that's just one of those fluke one-in-a-million shots.""
*Note: I used this picture because I wanted one that had not just Andy, but also CPT Casey and SFC Beaver in it, and also because, of the recent pictures I have of him, this is one of the few that seems to me to be in some sense usable. At any rate, it was sent out in a newsletter, unlike some other pictures I have, which were never published in any way (nor do I know who took them.) If there is any objection to my using it in this way, just let me know; I will of course take it down.