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January 04, 2008


Jesus Christ. I'm sitting here crying at my desk.

I don't think I've ever cried at work before.

No words.

My condolences to Andy's friends and family and this community.

Oh, no.

OMG. I’m dumbstruck. This is so awful.

I had to read the first couple of sentences a few times to understand (believe?) what I was reading. What awful news.

I'm just numb here. I hate this damn war.

Oh my god.

I have a stack of DVDs about to go out in the mail to him, per email discussion.

Oh. My. God.

Nightmares come true for so many of us.


F*cking f*ckding f*cking god.

I am flabbergasted. In utter disbelief. Hilzoy, is there anything we as a community can do for Andrew's family? Simple condolences hardly seem sufficient.

Lucky me gets to cry at home.

I was worried that something was up yesterday -- Andy had said he'd be online and wasn't, and then, by chance, I saw a press release about two people being killed in an ambush in Diyala, and a third wounded. I was telling myself it wasn't Andy, and that the internet service was down, ever since.

Andy was such a great person. That was one of our points of disagreement, though. I just wish I had done a better job of convincing him on that one point, or that he could have seen himself the way other people did, if only for a moment.

His poor family.

Oh, no. :( Like several of the folks before me, I've got tears now.

What Phil asks, about his family.

I feel like I've been kicked in the gut.

Oh, god, no.

Sorry, G'kar/Andy: I'm crying for you, and I'm enraged at how your life was thrown away.

I'm with LB. What a fine man.

I can't speak. I just vomited.

I was going to the post office this afternoon to mail him the disks.

Oh, shit. I cried out aloud reading that.

Oh God, I wish he had agreed with you on his own worth, hilzoy. I respected him so much, even when I disagreed with him.

Shit. His poor, poor family.

If by some miracle there is an afterlife (and I tend to doubt it also), please know that your words moved me, both before and after your tragic death. You lived and died with honor and purpose. (And no, that's not an endorsement of the Iraq war, anymore than your service in it was).

Peace be with you and yours.

I'm so sorry to hear this, and sorry for the pain of his family and close friends.





My condolences to his wife and family. I'm so sorry.

Andy and Amanda bought me a meal. We had a good time. We went to a Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash in 2004.

I joked about it here. Ha ha.

I dreaded that this day would happen.

I can't imagine that Amanda, and all Andy's relatives, many of whom he told me about, didn't dread it.

Oh, god.

They say grown men shouldn't cry, but right now it really is the best option.

Jesus. This is horrible. It goes without saying that he'll be missed terribly. There are few bloggers I had more respect for than Andy. Hell, few people period. He was the epitome of the professional soldier. Goddammit.

Oh f*ck.

Is there anything we can do for his family?

Such terrible news.

Like Hilzoy, I'm crying at home.

Tragic. If there is anything we can do to help the family, please post.

I'm sorry for all his loved ones. Just horrible.

I'm sorry for all his loved ones. Just horrible.

Good lord. That's horrible.

It's going to take a while for me to digest that post fully, but it's something special, and speaks to what a loss it is.

Please do let us know if there's something we can do for his family. Condolences to his family and friends.

I just want to put my name her with everyone else's.

I can't possibly say anything.

I wish I could thank him for writing that. But I'd rather not have had the circumstances that allowed me to read it.

Damn it.

That's really all I can think of to say now.

Damn it all.

I'm so sorry. My deepest condolences.

"No words" is about right. I won't say his life was wasted, as he makes it clear he gave it willingly based on his own moral code. And everything I have read/learned about the experience in Iraq tells me that these brave (what a weak and overused word that seems) men fight for each other and no one who has done that can be said to have lived in vain.

But there is so much more they could have lived for and for that, we can push back gently on Major Olmsted's words. Too bright, too eloquent, and too young to be gone. Worth any number of those who claimed this would be another Grenada, damn their eyes.

Is there a way to be true to his wishes that we not say the lives of he and his brothers-in-arms were wasted and still get the ^&*( out of there? I wasn't aware we were running a surplus of bright souls like this: how many more do we need to lose before it's too many?

In a while, I'll ask for an address for his troops.

In a while, I'll adjust.

In a while, I'll understand this is real.

In a while, I'll... do nothing, and no good, and people in Iraq will continue to die, and what the f*ck.

What the f*ck.

What the f*ck.

what. the. f*ck.

and f*ck it all. f*ck it. f*ck it. f*ck it.

and f*ck the posting rules.

f*ck it all









And then f*ck

and thenf*ckf*ckf*ck

like that helps




Nightmare come true. So sorry.

This is just awful. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

A loss beyond measure. Sympathies and sorrows in full.

It's 3 am here. Earlier, I was reading Big Fat Cat and the Ghost Avenue to my daughter, and started crying when I read this passage:

Mom always told me that life was like a blueberry pie. Sometimes it is sour, but most of the time it is sweet... But she was wrong, you know. She died of a heart attack when I was in high school. From overwork. My father had left us the year before, and she'd had to work two jobs to raise me. One day when I came home from school, there was a slice of warm blueberry pie on the table. She was sitting in front of the oven, waiting for the pie to cool. But...she wasn't breathing. No last words. I never even said 'thank you' to her. I was too late. I'm always too damn late.'

I thought I was crying about my mom, but something work me up and had me start surfing and I find this post, like a blueberry pie, waiting.

The older we get the more people we know who die. I didn't know G'kar personally, only through here, and I'm sorry it was his time to go. My condolences to his family.

Lt. Cmdr. Data: [at Lt. Yar's Wake] Sir, the purpose of this gathering confuses me.
Capt. Picard: Oh? In what way?
Lt. Cmdr. Data: My thoughts are not of Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking how empty it will be without her presence. Did I miss the point?
Capt. Picard: No, Data. You got it

--Star Trek: The Next Generation

My deepest, deepest condolences.


Nothing really to say, but hoping that adding to the list of people expressing sorry might somehow be of some little comfort to those who knew and loved him.

I've been reading this site for years without commenting. Of all the occasions.

Damn it, damn it, god damn it.

Ave atque vale, Andrew.

I don't read Obsidian Wings, and wasn't aware of this man's existence till just now. I just wanted to say that his intelligence and humor and decency were so strongly communicated in this letter that he did part of what he intended in writing: he made what war takes from us painfully vivid, even to a stranger to him.

These post will need reading over and over. Too much too handle in one time.

I'm saddened to read about the death of your friend. My deepest condolences.

Shit shit shit shit shit.

Rest in peace, Andrew. Thank you for fighting the good fight, online and abroad.

Hugs and condolences to his family and friends.

Oh, hell, Hilzoy.

He was such a mensch, you know? So many people trying to make stupid f*cking debating points, and here was one guy who did his best just to tell the truth. And now he's gone.

I hope he knew how much we all respected him and how much he meant to us. Rest his soul.

"Lt. Cmdr. Data: My thoughts are not of Tasha, but for myself."

I hate that, too, though I know it's normal. I think about how sad I am, how bad I feel, how much I cared about Andy, me me me, blah, blah, blah.

I don't want to do that. I like to think I'm caring about him, and Amanda, and Andy's mom and dad and brother and all the other folks I know of in his life.

And I do.

But I want to direct my extreme feelings of sorrow to some useful purpose, such as supporting Andy's troop, or... something.

I don't want it to be about my own sorrow and terrible feelings.

Is there something we, as a group at ObWi, can do in Andy's memory that would be worthy of his memory?

I'm not remotely competent to think about it now. I put it up there to come back to.

I understand, actually, how terrible feelings of sorrow can turn to anger and hate. I feel those feelings now. I want to do something right by Andy.

Right now, all I can do is babble. And right now, it's all I can do but babble.

But maybe, in a while, after we grieve, we can do something to help Andy's memory, and efforts in life to continue?

Quiet consummation have, and renowned be thy grave.

Fwiw: I hereby, unilaterally, suspend that portion of the posting rules that prohibits profanity, for this thread only.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

This makes the end of the week really suck....

"G'Kar" was a character in the Babylon 5 tv show, and several adjoining movies.

He was a character played by the great character actor Andrea Katsulas.

His character changed over five years and more from a small-minded rebel to a broadminded figure who develped great wisdom. He dealt with his land and people suffering a terrible occupation. He dealt with hatred, and genocide being practiced upon his people, and he somehow, after years of rebellion and violance, turned to peace, in the face of that genocide.

It's something not everyone would immediately recognize about Andy, a Major in the Army, whom I first knew as a reserve Captain, who first started arguing with me back in 2002.

It's one of a lot of things I need to talk about him in days to come.

Katsulas died too young a year or so ago. Andy mourned G'Kar: the actor, the character, and what the character meant.

I suppose someone should bop JMS. He probably would actually care.

I really think we should do something for Amanda. However large it is, it will be a small thing, but we should still do it. She is going to need it.

(This is of course the manly thing to try to distract myself while tears are still running down my cheeks after crying for a half-hour numb walk). But that doesn't make it less true.

Words fail, as they always do in the case of death.

I'm sorry for the loss to his friends and family. He was an honorable man: he'll be missed.

I hate reading stuff like this. I just hate it. I hate that we're in this stupid war with no end, and that good people ever have to die for a cause (noble or otherwise).

I lost a fair number of friends because of 9/11 (those working at Cantor Fitzgerald and also in operations for the WTC), and let me tell you, death never gets easier to deal with, no matter what the circumstances, or what letters they left behind.

No matter how well-written and heartfelt I just feel empty inside when I read this stuff. He will be sorely missed.

Andreas Katsulas, actually. Sorry.

Add me to the list of people crying at work. I just can't believe it. There are no words.

My deepest condolences to Andrew's family. I didn't know him personally, but it is heartfelt. I have a friend serving in Iraq, so I know what it's like not to know. And when it comes, you can never be prepared. I am a blogger, and having read Andrew in the past, felt like I knew a little of him.

Very sad. Very sad.

I simply can't express how sorry I am.


Dumbstruck with horror.

My heart goes out: first and foremost to Andrew's wife and family; next to those who he know and touched in the real world.

But even with the distance inherent in the blogosphere, I still feel I have lost someone who I've "known"; even if only as a (intelligent, articulate and honorable) voice on the Internet.

Damn, how mere words fail.

Olav ha-shalom

that is terrible.

... and i just got back from a going-away lunch for a co-worker who was just called back from Inactive Reserves. he got a new 400 day tour.


I don't really have any words other than to say that Andrew will be deeply, deeply missed even by those of us who had no claim save his writing. A good man truly has been lost.

I didn't know him. But my condolences.

A little poem for his freinds.

When I'm Gone

by Mrs.Lyman Hancock

When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile

Forget unkind words I have spoken
Remember some good I have done
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I've had loads of fun

Forget that I've stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day

Then forget to grieve for my going
I would not have you sad for a day
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay

And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best

Damn. Damn. Damn.

I only knew Andrew through his writing, but I'm tearing up right now.

I am so sorry. What a horrible thing for his family. Crap.

I don't know what to say. I didn't expect to be crying. I didn't know Andrew as many of you did. I just read his words every once in a while, usually disagreeing with him (as I recall). And yet...

I hadn't really been touched by this war. I don't have friends or family in the military, so I didn't have anyone I worried about. To be frank, I thought my connection to the war was distant enough that an Iraqi civilian's death had as much chance of reaching me as an American soldier's. They were both sad and regrettable, but in an abstract and distant way. And now I learn I was wrong. I don't know what to do with that.

I have read Obsidian Wings on and off for probably about two years without commenting. It sits near the top of my RSS reader because the posts are consistently more insightful, and there is a higher level of discussion than just about anywhere else I can think of.

"I flatter myself I may have made a good argument or two as well"

You did, Andrew, no matter who may have agreed or disagreed. I am sure that there are many other people like me who you have reached out and touched through your blogging, but whom you never knew. Thank you, and I am so sorry for your family. Rest in peace.

My sincere condolences to everyone who knew Andrew. Despite his modesty, I have a feeling that he was a better person than he gave himself credit for. A very, very painful loss, words fail at times like these.

"That is horrible" is echoing in my mind. My prayers to his family.

My latest email from Andy, I see, was Thu, 20 Dec 2007 18:34:17 +0300.

We were talking about various stuff. [Sentence deleted by The Management.] We were talking about movies. We were talking about all sorts of stuff.

Like always.

I wrote most of a response earlier today, and saved it in my "draft" file for after I went to the post office this afternoon to mail him disks.

I'm not making it to the post office today.

Add me to the list of those who knew *G'Kar* only thru his writing here and yet find themselves teary-eyed at work. RIP Andy and my sincere condolences to his wife, family, and friends. I look forward to reading about some way for ob-wi readers to honor this fine man.

Goddammit. My heart goes out to Amanda and Andrew's family and friends. This one really hurts.

My deepest condolences to Andrew's family. I have enjoyed reading his writing over the past several years, and his voice will be missed by many.

Is this the time or place to remember Andrew?
It is all I seem able to do.

I'm thinking he was kinder to me than I deserved, but that's his call, I suppose. I regret things I've written in response to him today, I may not regret them tomorrow.

Went looking for Chaucer's Knight's Tale for the older meanings of big words like kind, gentle, and noble.

Noble is a very good word.

I'm so sorry. I looked forward to his posts daily. I can't believe I'm crying over someone I've never met, but he's getting the tears whether he wants them or not. How can we help his family?

God damn it. I am so sorry. If there is anything hat can be done for his friends her or his family, please let us know.

Andy used to post here under his own name. After a flurry of news about a military crackdown on blogging, he momentarily stopped bloggin on his own blog, and here under his own name.

After a few days, he realized that requirements were that strict, and that it was okay for him to blog if he did it under another name.

I dryly recall that within five minutes after his first comment here as "G'Kar," I asked him -- recognizing him instantly under that name, as the B5 fan in the military that he was -- if he had posted here before under another name, knowing full well what the answer was.

He expressed suprise not that someone would figure out who "G'Kar" was, but that I'd do it within the first three minutes.

I guess I'll hold onto that memory.

But after dozens and dozens of emails over years, and, of course, pissing Andy off endlessly with my niggling points in comments at his blog some years ago, you get to know someone.

Whoever said "punch in the gut" was 100% right. What does one say in response to this? I think Farber is closest to getting it right.

Wow. I so rarely comment, but I think I read every single thing he ever wrote here. It's odd how you can feel like you know someone you never met, or even exchanged many words with. I feel like I lost a friend, yet I can't imagine what Gary, or Hilzoy or the rest of you who really knew him must feel.

My deepest condolences to his family and friends. He will be sorely missed.


This one really hurts.

I'm so very sorry. His voice will be missed.

Tonight, alone, I will raise a glass and offer a toast in his memory. Then I'll probably cry.

"It's all so brief, isn't it? A typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years. But it's barely a second compared to what's out there. It wouldn't be so bad if life didn't take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right, and then...it's over." Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5
Stephen Franklin was a fictional character played by Richard Biggs, who died young at the age of 44, two years ago.

Worth saying.

Oh jesus christ.

I didn't even know him well, and christ knows I'll miss him. He was

I want to say something like "he was a gentleman" and I don't mean anything class-orientated by it: I mean he had the root of the matter in him, he was the kind of soldier I couldn't imagine *not* trusting to behave well, the kind of guy that a pacifist like me can respect for his courage and his decency.

And he's dead. Jesus christ, goddammit, what a bloody mess.

If anyone's passing on messages to the family, I add my condolences, little as they can mean at a time like this. But he'll be missed and his death regretted even by people who never met him.

This is the first time I will comment on thie blog, and I wish it wasn't under such circumstances.

I, like many others, only knew Andrew through his writing here. But whether I agreed with it or not, I have learned from and really appreciated his words.

Condolences to his family and friends. I haven't gotten this close to crying since my grandfather's funeral.

He expressed suprise not that someone would figure out who "G'Kar" was, but that I'd do it within the first three minutes.

Heh. I saw that exchange, and probably wouldn't ever have figured it out without your comment.

If anyone knows about any sort of memorial fundraising or anything, for his family or his unit, it would be wonderful if it were linked here.

One more to the long list of people touched by Andrew. I don't think I ever said anything to him or anyone about it, but the guy kicked off a real thirst on my part to know what individual service members actually were thinking but wouldn't say publicly. He was just so insightful even when he was so wrong ;-} He is responsible for me bugging an aweful lot of people who served in the armed services, and for some very interesting reading.

Just a poor teacher, but count me in on those who would like to do something for his family or fellow troops or...something.

We thank and honor Andy Olmsted for his service and sacrifice to our nation and offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends, readers and anyone else touched by his life.

Oh no.

On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world. - Henry David Thoreau

To his family and friends, I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences. I'm so sorry.

jesus - just seeing this. speechless.

but it was a honor to write with him - i can only offer my thoughts and deepest condolences to his loved ones.

Soon the ice will melt, and the blackbirds sing
along the river which he frequented, as pleasantly as ever.
The same everlasting serenity will appear in this face of God,
and we will not be sorrowful, if he is not.

- Henry David Thoreau (on the death of his brother)

Andrew was one of the best, and thanks to the archives and the memories of those who knew him, still is.

hilzoy, if you could (eventually) get in touch with Andrew's family and find some way for us to be helpful, that would be appreciated.

Andy was, in fact, one of only two people from the blogosphere whom I've met because he went out of the way to arrange for us to meet, and have dinner, and an evening together, back in 2004.

He lived in Colorado Springs, off Fort Carson, at the time, when he was still a Captain, and doing training of U.S. troops at Carson, before he went off some months later to the eastern U.S. to continue working on training U.S. troops, a couple of years before he found himself with orders for Iraq and an MiTT team.

He and Amanda and I wandered around some blocks in Denver before they bought me a nice meal. I accidentally left my fish sandwich half behind, which was probably just as well, given how fish keeps.

Andrew Olmsted was a good man.

Not a perfect man, he'd be the first to admit. But a good man.

I'm proud that he represented my country in our military. I'm so very proud of him.

Understanding Andy's utterly desirable wish to not see his death used as a political tool -- and I'll probably be one of the first to irrationally leap to offer to kill anyone who violates that wish remotely -- I only hope that somehow his death can somehow be worthwhile, to some people, somewhere, for some reason. Somehow.

And I can't say a damn thing more about that.

Other than that if there's anything I can do to help that, just ask me.

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