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January 06, 2008

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A few minutes ago I did not know this man's name. Now I don't think I shall ever forget him.

From the accounts here, he died trying to bring reason into a place where reason is seldom tolerated, neither fighting nor fleeing. If I should ever die in a war, I hope to be doing something half as honourable as this.

My thoughts are with his family, and the families of all who die in this war.

Now that tears have dried, may I say: I do not pity Major Olmsted, or Captain Casey, or their families.

The Major and the Captain were warriors. And great ones. I pity the poor dumb b$#%$#&s who met them on the field of battle.

Our men and women in battle are the most honorable, courageous, intelligent, and compassionate warriors ever assembled on this planet.

I honor them with a salute and a small smile. Well done brothers, (fills cup) To absent friends.

Later, I will reread the Major's final post. And weep again.


Now that tears have dried, may I say: I do not pity Major Olmsted, or Captain Casey, or their families.

The Major and the Captain were warriors. And great ones. I pity the poor dumb b$#%$#&s who met them on the field of battle.

Our men and women in battle are the most honorable, courageous, intelligent, and compassionate warriors ever assembled on this planet.

I honor them with a salute and a small smile. Well done brothers, (fills cup) To absent friends.

Later, I will reread the Major's final post. And weep again.


My condolences to the Major's family, friends and comrades in arms.

I take comfort in words of this Hopi poem:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there,
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight
On the ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there.
I did not die.
My Spirit is still alive...

May he rest in peace.

Never actually read his blogs, until just a few minutes ago via Wired.com's Danger Room.

Although tragic, his last post was a heartwarming proof to me that there's good people around. As long as we keep on talking and listening there's hope. The way Andy put it in his last words, will make me keep that idea closer to heart for the rest of my days.

I hope I will never forget about this.

Warmest regards and condolences to his friends and family from Belgium.

/makes mental note to look up Andy in the afterlife one day and buy him a beer.

Like many others here, I did not personally know Andy. The very first I heard of his terrible and untimely death was in an obit. in the Boston Globe. While our politics might have differed(and that we'll never know)I'm a Vet, from a family of em' and there's no death that comes in defense of comrades, or to protect another that is wasted. From all I've read, Andy died doing something that he believed in(not so much the war itself, but the Oath he took that brought him to this end) and if nothing else, we should all respect the mans commitment and courage. He was doing a dirty job that needed to be done. I salute you sir, and hope that your family will accept, at least my condolences and that they know that there are those of us who consider him a Hero.
Morneblade

My families thoughts and prayers are with Major Olmsted and his family. I am so sorry for their loss, no words can express our gratitude for his service in the Army.

This might be a stretch for some, but play along with me and try to imagine it:

It's Sunday morning, and you're sitting in church. It's that time of the morning worship service where they begin to pass the plate around.

You reach into your pocket or pocketbook, whichever the case may be, and you pull out your wallet. There's no cash or checkbook. For whatever reason, whether it's because you're a pauper, you used the last of the money to get groceries or pay a bill - whatever the case, you're flat broke with nothing to give.

All around you, folks are standing, fists full of money, anxious for the man to come around with the plate so that they can give. You feel so isolated, almost quarantined, because you're the odd man out. Thing is, nobody's paying you any attention whatsoever, because they're so intent on giving that nothing else exists in their world.

The Olmsted family dug deep and gave everything they had, while I had nothing to give. For that, am both thankful and ashamed - thankful for your sacrificial giving, and ashamed that I couldn't contribute.

"Thank you" seems so pathetic and trite - yet, literally, it is all that I can give.

I'm so sorry for the family's loss, particularly his wife, Amanda. Andy sounds like he was a good man and a good soldier. My heart goes out to all of you.

May you rest in peace.. and in the afterlife, may your wife and family find you waiting for them with your arms wide open.. You were a brave man, someone I would have been honored to have known.. My prayers are with your family to help them during this time of such sorrow.. Andy's family.. God bless you now and always.. Be proud of him..

I've been sitting at my computer for an hour and a half after coming across the story on Fox News' website about Major Olmstead's last blog. I've read and re-read his blog, and I've read a ton of comments. There is so much going through my head that I can't express it all adequately in words.

Let me start by saying that I am so very sorry for all of the family and friends of Andy. He was obviously a very special man that made this world a better place.

I am praying that his family will be drawn to God through this horrible loss.

As for those who feel his life was wasted, you are so very wrong. Although it is extremely unfortunate that any of our soldiers ever have to die, they go into the military knowing that they might give their lives for the freedom of our citizens.

Although every death in Iraq is horrible, I truly believe that our soldiers are doing an incredible service to the Iraqi civilians and they are HELPING to prevent future events like 9/11 from happening again on American soil. Found or not, we all know there were WMDs there, Saddam just had time to get rid of them before we came.

I don't have a time-table for when is the right time to leave, but as long as our soldiers are there, we should be grateful and honor them in any way we can.

Amanda, I'm so sorry for your loss and pray your nights get easier.

I couldn't stop crying! What a beautiful human being. My deepest heartfelt sympathies to Andy's family and friends. You were very fortunate to have known such a man; even if it was for such a short time! God Bless all of you and "Thank You" Andy for all you did for our country!

RIP Sir! (Salute)

WOW! I've just met a real American hero.

Thank you Major Olmsted & CPT Casey and your families for what you have done for us. And to all the others in harm's way - please know that what the media reports most often, is NOT what we, your fellow Americans, feel in our hearts.

Even those of us who have not been in war can have an appreciation for your sacrifices. I'm old enough to remember Vietnam and I am ashamed of the way our country received our heroes home.

I will go back & read these blogs and I am sure they will provoke many thoughts & emotions. That Major Olmsted was an uncommon man is evident.

My condolences to his and to CPT Casey's families, and my prayers go out for SFC Beaver's full and prompt recovery.


Condolences to Amanda and the rest of Major Olmsted's family, and to hilzoy and the rest of his online family.

My condolences for the family. I would like to leave a prayer:

Heavenly Father I thank you that You are God. I thank you that you have sent your only son, Jesus, to die in our place so that salvation would be made available to anyone who asks. I pray for this family who is grieving, that you would comfort them in a divine way. Lord, reveal yourself to his family and friends in this time of sorrow. I thank you that you are a God of justice who will deal with each one according to their deeds. I pray Lord that you would put an end to the evil that people have within them by convicting them of their sins and saving them like Paul the Apostle. Lord, so many people are decieved with lies...please empower your people by delivering the truth to regions that just have lies..and protect your people so that the truth may be heard...forgive those who are upset with You and blame you unjustly. Forgive them because they do not know you, nor do they know your great faithfulness and mercy that you truly have towards your creation. May you convict them too and bring them to saving faith. But please be with Andrew's family....provide for them in whatever they may need, be it financially, emotionally, mentally....you are the God who sees and provides, please bless Andrew's family and friends with your comfort and love. I ask for this in accordance to the will of the Father in Jesus' name.

Just wanted to send my deepest condolences. I did not know him, but it hurts me still when I see that a soldier has lost his life defending the freedom that we all have because of that.

I never knew this man and have not read his blog before but I will respect his wishes and not be political in my comments. The death of a soldier is a sad thing that is often a loss not widely felt, this soldier is different. He was "one of us" in a way that makes his death feel as a personal loss to all of us. Our thoughts are with those who loved him and ached for his homecoming, now they will carry the burden of his loss for the rest of their days, I wish them strength for the journey.
I hope that one day we will find our world at a corner of peace and prosperity, and war a distant, distant nightmare from which we need never fear again. If we have any hope of living there it will be thanks to the courage of people like Andrew Olmstead, and many more like him. To ALL of them I thank you for your service, and sadly mourn your sacrifices. May God bless you all.

I am so sorry about this loss.

Although I did not know the author, this piece was beautiful and gave me a brief introduction to a bright soul.

My very best to Andrew's family.

My sincerest condolences to Andrew's family. To Andy: Well written. RIP, Soldier. Thank you for your service.

It still seems pretty powerful after the 3rd or 4th reading as well...

My thoughts and prayers are with Andy's Family. Godspeed to all who are related to this American Hero and to his many, many friends.

Erv
Mason, MI

It would have been an honor to have known you, A true honor.

Thanks for the photo, which I certainly take in the spirit it was meant.

Reading the circumstances of Andy's death is all the more heart-breaking. It says a lot about the type of man and officer he was. I also can't help but think of the other servicepeople I know over there, who share a similar ethos.

Condolences to his family, friends and comrades once again.

Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government. Whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as firm and complete as they should be.

These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a tenfold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the great captains who hold the Nation's destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds.

The long gray line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.

This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."


General Douglas MacArthur's Farewell Speech


Given to the Corps of Cadets at West Point


May 12, 1962

Odd, isn't it. Time for change. 1962. 2008. BiPartisan. Remember the "little folks." Mission First, Men Always. Leadership.

Vote. Serve. Support. Debate. Soldier On.

Olmsted, well done. Be thou at Peace.

For the rest of us, FIDO is in effect. F it, Drive On.

This country of ours, with all of it's flaws
is still the greatest. It's the men and women of the military that keep it that way.
God bless all of you....your service and sacrifices will NEVER be forgotten.

My thoughts go to the family of this fine man,may you find hearts ease~sage

Ave, et atque vale, frater.

I could say a lot more, but that sums it up.

Terry Karney
SSG, CA-ARNG
OIF-1

I just heard about a homicide bomber trying to take out a bunch of Iraqi military during some sort of celebration of Iraqi Army Day. Reports are that about four regular IA troops jumped on him to reduce the blast.

Andy, if there is an afterlife, I know they're your brothers and you'll greet them and show them around.

Semper Fi.

Andrew; from an old soldier, thank you for the ultimate sacrifice. I pray that deep down everyone realizes that because of men like Andy, we all enjoy freedom. Don't waste it! Amanda, I am so very sorry for your loss and hope that in time you will find comfort. God Bless.

RIP Andy. Semper Fi. You are the Best of America. We Need a Leader Like You to Run our Government. Not as it is now. A grown man is crying inside.

I am the wife of a military man, whom like the rest of you serve because he chose too. I support him , even in times when he is gone deplored (TDY) , those are the hardest times for us, we get mad, alot of time sad, we get lonly and worried, but we always Love and Miss you. We are not just married to a military man but also find that we have become adopted mothers ( which is joy in its self ) and at the same time another saddness , because we sit back and worry about those men also. I pray every day and night for all of you guys , I pray now for the Maj. wife Amanda. I send my condolences to his wife, his parents and friends and to the other military wife that may have adopted him into thier family. Always remember guys us military wife's LOVE YOU ALL deeply although some of you may drive us nuts.. you are our family.. god bless you all and thank you for all that you do.. God rest your soul Maj. Andrew Olmsted and bring peace to your fellow buddie's at arm's. And most of all god bless you Amanda ! a little foot note, i am X-Army so to you Maj. i say * ALL THE WAY SIR *

wow... speechless...thanks Andy, and thank you to Amanda for giving him the support he needed even though it cost you dearly. i bet heaven is beautiful this time of year :(

Thanks Andy, for being brave when others aren't or can't be. Thanks for fighting for our freedom, Thanks for giving your life so that those of us back home can live ours. I was very touched by your blog and wish I'd been lucky enough to have met you online... you certainly did get the last word... Good for you! May you rest in peace knowing you served your country well and I hope that some how your family finds comfort in your final words and your memories. God Bless. Jennifer

You, SIR, have my respect and I can only hope to display the dignity that you had in spades. May you reside where no shadows fall.

I would like to say that Andy was wrong to think there is no life after death. He will be held in memory in a special place by so many people he never even knew. And when they do a kindness to others, a little bit of who he was will be touching them as well.

Had we more people like Andy in the world, it would certainly be a kinder, more wonderful place for us all. Thank you Andy, thank you friends and family of this man. He will not be forgotten, and will live on past our own lives.

Thank you Major.

SGT John C. Gentle
USAR/ISG
Iraq 4/2003 to 7/2004

As an Army wife with a husband in Afghanistan, my heart and soul goes out to this courageous soldier, and his even more courageous wife. I can't imagine the pain that she is feeling. Thank you for your sacrifice. I know that can't possible even begin to console you. I'm sorry for you loss seems empty. God Speed in your healing process.

Omg this was amazing...as i write this just thinking of what ive just read brings tears to my eyes.i just read the story of our fallen soldier and first and for most i must take a moment and say thank u to the rest of u that r doing a battle that i could never see myself doing...THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart. even though i dont feel like u should be fighting this battle...THANK YOU. Between you'll and the orkin man i cant figure out who i love more j/k.To every one in morning, even though u may be hurt by the passing, he is without a doubt in a better place. A place where we all just have to look forward to going when or time comes. so stop the tears. Ive never lost anyone close before but reading this made me feel the pain that the family has felt.To the beloved wife, i must say...u should be on cloud nine for the way u have just been praised. I bow to you. I am just 21 years old so im not married yet. but i just hope that he is a man that makes me feel what u were feeling when u read this. as sad as it was to read it probably was the sweetest thing ive ever read. i could go on and on but im not. again thank u guys for everything u do. without you there would be no us. The storm will be over soon, just hang on. I love u guys:)

I never read the blog, just the story today. Amanda, you are obviously a very wonderful person. Most of us can't imagine what you're enduring, but know you are your family are in so many of your thoughts. Your husband is a true American hero.

I am so sorry! May Amanda and his many friends and family members find comfort in their memories of good times shared together. I have a nephew in the Navy and we worry everyday. My family's thoughts and prayers are with you.

Oh my god... my heart goes out to all of Andy's family and friends. I always enjoyed Andy's writings and his discussions and had the honor of meeting him once. You know why it always seems like God takes our best and brightest in these sorts of events? Because it is our best and brightest who serve to protect and defend all of us and love what they do. Andy, you will be sorely missed.

My deepest admiration and thanks go to Andy and his family who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and its constitution.

I have the greatest respect for someone like Andy who for the love of their country decide to put their life in the hands of whoever the voters put into the white house. Personally I do not have that kind of courage, and after the election of 2004 I will almost certainly never get it. No matter how history will judge this war, your life was not wasted; you died in the defense of your country’s constitution.

Major Olmsted, Captain Casey and SFC Beaver: BRAVO ZULU!!!! Well Done! Did not know any of these HEROES personally, but feel through our service connection that I do.
Prayers for the families of these brave Americans from this retired Navy Chief.

This dust was once the man,
Gentle, plain, just and resolute, under whose cautious hand,
Against the foulest crime in history known in any land or age,
Was saved the Union of these States.

- Walt Whitman

With loving memory, from your Australian friends and comrades. Thank you for being a good soldier and a good man.

At the going down of the sun
And in the morning,
We shall remember them.

I've only discovered Andy through today's national news article about his posthumous blog. Amanda, my heart goes out to you and his family. Being retired military, I know your loss and understand perfectly. Sorry.

This is war...and He is a Hero!

Every paper in our nation should lead with his unedited "Last Entry" as front page news. I think the impact would be profound. Pro, Con or ambivalent it would make for some much needed perspective.
When I think of all the "famous" people who have passed on before their time, the grief and outpouring of emotion, and the front page headlines they prompted. I will know we are still needing work when they remain on the front page, and that those deserving such as the MAJ are not.
We have come so far, but how far we have yet to go.

SALUTE.....The slow one (we know the one)

God Bless Major, Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.

God Bless You Andy. I wish I could have come to know you under different circumstances. Thank you for everything you have done and given to this country.

what an amazing person. i read his final blog 4 times so far. cry - yes, but laugh as well. i only wish that i could be as eloquent in expressing myself.
i pray now that andy is at peace with the lord. i pray now that his family,friends & fellow bloggers find some measure of peace & comfort in his words.
rest in peace andy.
an amazing man.

Samurai say that duty is as heavy as a mountian but death is as light as a feather.
I never understood that until now.

Big man crying here.

The world is a lesser place today.

per G'Kar's wishes, just finished listening to "Freedom Isn't Free" & tearing up.

I don't have any friends, family members or acquaintances that have lost their lives in this, or any war.
Never lost anyone to the hands of someone else.
Never had to bury a friend or relative who didn't live a long, full life. Who didn't already have the pleasure of knowing and loving grandchildren and even some great-grands.
I never knew Major Olmsted, never read any of his blogs, up until now.
I never commented on any of the hundred others I have read.

They were all just words, written on this global canvas, by people with an opinion.
And everybody has an opinion.

Reading all of the comments about Major Olmsted has made me realize a few things:

A full life is not measured by years on this earth, but by the number of lives you touch.

Everybody's words count to somebody, whether or not you agree.

Never is a very long time.

God Bless.


Reading Andrew's last post for me opened up some not so old "wounds". Been there , got close to that.
Some people harden up and soldier on ,some just manage , some don't cope , some die.
My respects to Andrew and his family.
Harden up , soldier on brother.... In Omnia Paratus.

...
All I can think to say is nothing I have people i know serving and cant even think of what I would do hell I never even thought about it but now its on the top of my mind... Dang I am sorry for your lose and would like to know if there is any way to help.

...
All I can think to say is nothing I have people i know serving and cant even think of what I would do hell I never even thought about it but now its on the top of my mind... Dang I am sorry for your lose and would like to know if there is any way to help

There are no words. I just weep.

This morning I woke to my dog bouncing up and down on the bed wanting to be feed. So, I lazily role out of our bed and kiss him good morning. Walking to the kitchen to feed him I began to think that my husband would just be getting of work and headed to his barics room in Iraq. I sat down like normal to check me email to see if he had sent me anything. My eyes were caught by news of a military mans blog that was asked to be posted in the event of his death in Iraq. I read the name Andy Olmsted and debated on whether or not to read it. I new with my husband being gone my chances of flipping out were a little higher then normal, but I decided I should read it. As I right this now there is so much I want to express and convey, however instead I simple want to say thank you. Thank you Andy for writing this blog, and for the person who had the courage to post it for him. Thank you to the men who died that day and all the days before. I am truly blessed to have been able to read Andy’s blog. Who would have known a simple morning routine would lead me to a life changing experience.

Go with God brother. Go with God. The world is a touch darker without you.

(You)do disagreeable things so that ordinary people here and elsewhere can sleep safely in their beds at night. Control, The spy who came in from the cold. John le Carre.
Thank you and Gods speed.

I never knew you but read about you via Blogs for Victory.

Your last entry brought tears to my eyes. My heart goes out to your family and friends. Bless you all...especially his wife.

Thank you Andy for serving and sacrificing.


~An Air Force wife

I did not know Major Andy. I wish I had.

Zecher tzaddik l'vrachah: The memory of the righteous is a blessing.

South Africa chimes in.

Andy would like the fact that Google now links to one news story about him with "all 111 news articles," another with "all 26 news articles," and on and on for three pages.

That's just the "MSM."

My love and prayers go out to all the men and women fighting this war. My brother Pfc. Bobby Helvey is stationed in Iraq on a base I think he named LSA ANACONDA or something like that and every day I pray I don't get the same news. GOD BLESS AND WATCH OVER OUR SOLIDERS SOMEONES GOT TO.

Rest in peace Andy. I am glad to hear that you died doing what you loved.

It is amazing the comments and posting for this courageous man. It is the only thing that is comforting me after reading that remarkable piece. God Bless all our soldiers that have died for us. A soldier in Iraq always says in emails to my sister that he wishes we Americans could see all the good that is going on. It is because of men like this there is good and hope in a country that was torn apart by a tyrant. Many years from now we will see the long term effects of this war and the good it will do for our world. It will be a result of men and women like this. This is a masterpiece and I hope it is never forgotten and continues on for ages. I wish we could help all our soldiers families. These men and women are my heroes and for us to have such an in depth perspective from such an incredible soldier is such a blessing. This man's desity was our gift and his family and friends must be so proud. I hope the family and friends take comfort in this work of art. Long live Andy's blogging!

My thoughts and prayers go out to Andy's family. I do believe in an afterlife, and I believe those who give their lives protecting our freedom receive high honors there. God Bless.

I just read his final entry...and while I had never before heard of the man.

...I've been touched by the loss of him.

My sincerest condolences to all those who were lucky enough to have called him friend, son, brother, perhaps father and especially husband.

My heart and thoughts are with you at this moment.

Wow. Are there better men than Andy out there?

Or is this it? Is this man the epitome of humankind? I'd be hard pressed to find someone who meant it like Andy did.

He meant all of it.

True hero.

There are people that come and go in your life and although I didn't know MAJ Olmsted I have grown to know him over several comments, as well as through his blogs. As Soldiers...we never look back at our fellow mates that have been lost their lives we take a step back keeping their memories alive.

I lost a friend to pancreatic cancer on 17 December 07. He had just turned 40, and was one of the kindest and most decent people I have ever known. His wife of two years had known little happiness in her life until meeting Don, and her three children mourned at the service as though he was their birth father. The morning of the day he passed on was one of the most beautiful I have seen in my life. The previous night had been quite foggy, and freezing, leaving everything covered with white gauze. I now bid farewell to another dear friend whom I've never met, with the hope that Don is there to meet Andy, tell him about the beauty of that day in December, and maybe commiserate about the loved ones left behind.

My deepest sympathy and condolences to Andrew's Family and Friends. He will be sadly missed, He is a true hero. May the Lord comfort and give you strength in your time of need. Please find comfort in knowing that Andrew now rests in the hands of the Lord and he has surely earned his crown. God Bless and be with all of you in your time of need.

Respectfully Yours in Christ,
Pastor Pat

wow. I'm speechless and in tears. i've never read Andy's blog, only brought here by an article on Fox News. He was obviously a very talented and caring person. To think he gave his life trying to save others.

I pray for his family as they mourn his loss. May God be with you, and all the soldiers out there.

I am so horribly sorry that it is upon a tragedy that I found Andy's words. His final letter made me cry, and I did not even know him.

He will be missed and the number of lives he touched is immeasurable.

Shana~

Andy is reminding us that we are all only human. We make the best choices we feel are right and that all humans are to be respected for those choices.
Let us remember all who have died for their beliefs and consider them all as heroes whether or not we share the same beliefs.
My condolences to all of Andy's family and to every other family who has experienced loss in war.
Susan

Thanks for serving our country. Happy Trails Major ... ya done good!

Andy is reminding us that we are all only human. We make the best choices we feel are right and that all humans are to be respected for those choices.
Let us remember all who have died for their beliefs and consider them all as heroes whether or not we share the same beliefs.
My condolences to all of Andy's family and to every other family who has experienced loss in war.
Susan

Hey Andy, I'm having one for you right now!!! and celebrating your wonderful life!
"Duty is heavier than a mountain, Death light as a feather". I will miss you.

Miss you too, Senior Airman Dan. 1 year ago today.

Gone, never forgotten....

I've never had so much respect for a man I've never met. Thank you for all that you've done.

Never before having any inclination to watch Babylon 5, I found myself in the library staring at the Sci-Fi section. Weird. Tonight seemed like a good enough night to start watching. Also weird.

I didn't know of this blogger until the article describing his death and the subsequent posting of his final post. I'm sitting here in tears as I read through the summary of his life and choices to be where he was...of his undying love for his wife Amanda. My heart breaks for her. Regardless of my views about this war, good or bad, there are true heroes out there that few know about. This man appears to be one of them. I do hope his final wish of respect for his family in the wake of his death is honored. It sounds as though he's definitely earned that much.

My prayers to his family and friends. I can't imagine your pain at this juncture. You have my deepest sympathy.

"Never before having any inclination to watch Babylon 5, I found myself in the library staring at the Sci-Fi section. Weird. Tonight seemed like a good enough night to start watching. Also weird."

I haven't the faintest doubt that Andy would have liked it if any folks lessened their automatic contempt for "sci-fi" fans, and if he sent anyone to JMS's Babylon 5 to enjoy.

Andy - Rock and roll, man! I only hope that I can remember that I am alive, and take your advice about that to heart. Thank you.

We are blessed with such people as Major Andrew Olmsted! I salute you and everyone in our military forces. What is in our hearts makes us who we are. Be proud and never, ever give up! Until we meet again...

What comes through in Andy's post to me, besides his humor, real-guy warmth, and idealism, is this clear-eyed view of the world and his place in it. He seemed a man at peace with himself which is, I think, a rare thing. I can also feel his deep sense of gratitude for his life, his work, and his beloved wife and family.
A regular guy, but an uncommon man. What a great loss we have suffered. How can we bear these losses?

It so happens that Andy died on my birthday, January 3rd....I didn't know him but I wanted to extend my heart and my deepest sympathies to his wife and family. To Andy, I want to express my most profound thanks, for your heart, your courage, and your sacrifice. No matter what any of us think of this war you died a hero's death, defending our freedoms. May God bless and keep you and your dear family...

I didn't know you but as a former military wife, in some small way I feel as if I did. My heart aches for your wife, family, and friends. I cannot imagine the pain they must be feeling. I thank God there are people like you who don't just talk the talk, but sign up and walk the walk. What a gift you left for those who knew you with your blogging. Even those who didn't know feel as if we now know a little bit about who you were. Unlike you, I do believe there is an afterlife and depending on how you lived your life and how you treated those in it, determines how your 'forever' plays out. I have no doubt that you are now in a better place and able to be with the ones you loved and those who loved you. God Bless you and thank you for sharing a part of who you were with the rest of us.

Major Olmsted's remarkable letter, brought to mind, "Sullivan Ballou's" letter, made famous by Ken Burn's series, "The Civil War":
http://www.naciente.com/essay19.htm.

The same strength of honor & patriotism & love of country, with great love of family! Both letters are a "must read"!

There are many things that could be said though none seem fitting. I know many soldiers, men, woman, mothers fathers. I have heard varying stories. And though I do not support the war What I do know deep inside is, after reading this brave, courageous man's journey He makes me proud to not only be an American but he humbled me. I have never heard of him before this very moment. If only we all could be so selfless. I thank you for sacrificing yourself. He is a hero. I wish I could only have a 1/4 of who he is.

Hi. Several people have asked whether there is anything they can do in memory of Andy and CPT Casey. A fund has been established for CPT Casey's four children, and Andy's family has told me that they think that would be a good cause to donate to. The address is:

Capt. Thomas Casey Children’s fund
P.O. Box 1306
Chester, CA 96020

Thanks so much.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

- President Theodore Roosevelt

Major Olmsted thank you for your service and your sacrifice. It is a debt that can never be repaid.

Yours was a life of action and I pray that I have the courage and strength of character to face the challenges as you have.

Semper Fi Brother.

"and the world's a little poorer for a soldier died today"-for those who haven't served, or loved one who has, this poem sounds like a joke at a soldier's expense. For those of us who live the life, the best tribute to the fallen is that the world is mourning & that one person feels the world is a little poorer.

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER
by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

c. 1985 A. Lawrence Vaincourt

And to Amanda, is there any love as strong as that of a soldier? God bless

No one begged you to go, you knew in your heart this was your calling. Few have been there but those with that incite needed to do the right thing. It never mattered what was politically correct, there was a job to be done and someone had to do it. We needed the ones that could do the job so we went. The odds were the odds, you do't dwell on them. Sadly your number came up and as you said "the cost of war". I wish you and your family peace and you have my heart felt thank you for your extreem sacrifice. I believe the world is a better place because of people like you. I will never forget you.

What an honorable soldier and devoted husband you are Andy. I have the greatest respect for you. You are what makes America the greatest place on earth.

Scott Eckert, USAF, Retired

I've been struggling since last Friday to try to get my head around the fact of Andrew's death, and to think of what I could possibly say that might honor his memory. I barely knew him, and only as a voice online here at Obsidian Wings. I can only imagine how things have been for folks for whom he was a real friend, family member, or loved one.

My only real interaction with Andrew was in an online conversation here, during the course of which I offered my opinion that he should "think harder" about some point of view he had expressed. Rather than just tell where where to get off (as I deserved), he took that comment to heart, and struggled with it in his reply. He was quite clear in his point of view, but also felt himself to be obliged to engage mine.

I won't say it was more than I deserved, because it's what we all deserve, but it's a gift all too rarely offered. It embarrasses me to this day that I presumed that he had not thought carefully about his point of view.

It humbles me to the ground when I think of how he died. "Greater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friends". Andrew lay his own life down to save those of, not just his friends, but his enemies as well. Such sacrifice is the very stuff of healing, of reconciliation, of hope, and of peace.

Such sacrifice is a gift that is only given by the best of us, those whose hearts are true, and great, and generous. Andrew was one of those.

Thanks -

Wow! I am just so moved by this! What a great guy...amongst an amazing bunch! To all of Andy's family, I am so very very sorry for this loss. Words cannot express my sadness. With all the drug addicts and losers, why Andy had to die is just an enormous mystery to me! I hate it.

Peace be with you now.

What do I say? While I did not know Andy Olmsted it feels improper to say nothing at this time, so I offer my best.

Goodbye, good luck. All endings merely set the stage for new beginnings. Here's to hoping all involved may begin again.

"With all the drug addicts and losers, why Andy had to die is just an enormous mystery to me!"

I can and will state with great confidence that, in fact, Andy didn't have any problem with the existence of drug addicts and losers, and that he only wished they could find help and get better.

I'm also fairly sure that he wouldn't like anyone to speak of "drug addicts" and "losers" as if they didn't deserve help or sympathy.

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