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January 04, 2008


Baruch Dayan haEmet

I read only a few of G'Kar's posts, but he was one of the bright lights of blogging.
All of us now personally know someone who was killed in Iraq. I hope that people are familiar with the IGTNT series at Daily Kos.

I second borehole's request: ignorance and hatred is it's own worst enemy.

The comment at 4:11 is the antithesis of what Andy's final post was able to convey (nuance and principled sacrifice). If you choose to delete it, you're welcome to ax this post too (so as not to confuse your readers).

As ugly as the comment is, it serves as a reminder that hatred knows no limits.

I think I was the only person who didn't realize that G'Kar and Andrew Olmsted were the same person.

I'm one of those anti-war types that borehole just wrote about, and it was the writing of Maj. Olmsted (and his alter ego) that gave me hope that despite the worst instincts of the political class, there are officers responsible for carrying out the civilians' policies who are contemplative, balanced, and wise. I'm so sorry that the man who gave me that hope is gone.

Heard about Maj. Olmstead through LJ. My heart goes out to his wife, family, and friends who have been left behind.

My husband is a huge B5 fan as well, and it sounds like Andy was quite the lightbearer.

K. Wagers
Air Force wife

"If I take a lamp and shine toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding. Too often we assume the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search, who does not bring a lantern with him, sees nothing. What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light, pure and unblemished. Not understanding that it comes from us, sometimes, we stand in front of the light and assume we are the center of the universe. God looks astonishingly like we do. Or we turn to look at our shadow and assume all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose - which is use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and all it flaws, and in so doing, better understand the world around us."

dbomp: I think I was the only person who didn't realize that G'Kar and Andrew Olmsted were the same person.

No, you're not: I didn't either. And if not for the news of Andy's death, I would right now still be trying to digest the news that G'Kar and Andy were the same person. (Andy's death is still being a bit much to digest.)

Blogger of Honor this week goes to Andy Olmsted, his friend hilzoy was left the difficult task of posting his last article.

Andy was killed on Thursday in Irak and will always have a place of honor amonst our true brothers. Andy thank you for walking your talk and laying down your life for defending ours.

Thanks for reminding us just how ephemereal this life really is... sharing your life with us, You lived hard and died well !

Editor....... ElderAbuseHelp.Org

I've been e-mailing links to all hateful and political-rant comments to Hilzoy, for her to delete or disemvowel. (Anyone can do this: e-mail the kitten [top left-hand corner of the blog] if you don't have Hilzoy's e-address.) I hope she continues to do so: I'm fully aware there are assholes and idiots in the world, and feel that's no reason to let them behave like jerks at a wake.

This is one of the best posts that I have ever read, it's a tragedy that the author had to die in order for it to be published. However, it seems that Andrew was more than aware that Death could overtake him while serving in Iraq and what he wrote here is invaluable to his family and friends.

Thank you, Major Olmsted, for your service to your country and for being the man that you were in that you were able to share so much with us. May God watch over your family as you rest in well deserved peace.

Bruce, I see it more like the flipside of G'Kar's (and ObWi's) raison d'blogre--irrespective of politics, some of us are utterly horrid. But yeah, your version's better.

Dbomp--I'm one of those types I was talking about too, especially the part about how he challenged my assumptions; I hope you didn't take that as a vague swipe.

For you, Andy,
Romans 8:28. I hope to see you, your friends, your family, in heaven.

I found this blog from another site. I wish I had gotten to know Andy. From the huge number of tributes to him, I missed a special man.

If I may offer a prayer:

Christ our eternal King and God, You have destroyed death and the devil by Your Cross and have restored man to life by Your Resurrection; give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your servant Andrew who has fallen asleep, in Your Kingdom, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering. In Your goodness and love for all men, pardon all the sins he has committed in thought word or deed, for there is no man or woman who lives and sins not, You only are without sin.

For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and Repose of Your servant Andrew, departed this life, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up glory with Your Eternal Father and Your All-holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen

Bruce and borehole: I understand why you might want it to stay (note to befuddled readers: "it" was a short but offensive comment that I deleted.) On any other thread, I would have: as anyone who has been around here knows, it normally takes some pretty serious offensiveness to get us to delete things.

This one is different, though. And Andy's friends and family are here. For myself, even if I hadn't been his friend, I would want his memory to be treated, at least on this thread, with the respect it deserves.

No comments are getting deleted because they say something like: while I myself do/do not approve of the war... They are getting deleted either for being political in a sense that disregards Andy's own request, or for being mindlessly venomous. In any other thread, politics would of course be fine, and the limits to mindless venom would be a lot further out.

Not this one. I might be wrong, but even if I am, I just can't bear letting them stand. Not now.

I was in ROTC with Andy back at WPI. The last time we spoke was at training exercise back at Fort Hood, TX or possibly Fort Carson, CO in the late 90s. I was in the 4th Infantry Division and we had units assigned at both locations so over the years one event seems to have blended into the next so I can't remember which is which anymore. I remember the happiness and joy of seeing someone who I'd served with in the past and such meetings are always accompanied by updates on where we've been, who we have seen, and how our families are doing. It is funny but the shared misery that often accompanies serving in the military helps breakdown any barriers that exist in civilian life. Education, money, race, religion, social standing...none of these mean anything when you are worried about finding a safe place to sleep through the night, or waiting from news from home, or having a good meal. Those are the things that really matter. You really don't realize how much you have until it is gone or more difficult to find. I am comforted in the fact that some of the most profound moments of my life where spent while deployed. Not that it was a joy but the reality is that much of the time is rather boring. It is an excellent opportunity to reflect on life and what is really important to you. So in parting I offer this to his family and friends know that his thoughts were of all of you. I am sure he probably had the time to reflect upon his entire life and although I don't know for certain I am sure he shared may thoughtful and insightful communications with you over the last few months. The life of a soldier changes you forever but it isn't the violence or the horror of the job that is the most important it is the love you learn to have towards you fellow brothers and to those you have at home. Andy, I'll see you on the Fiddler's Green.


Semper Fi bro, you did the good thing for all the right reasons. Your loss is sorely missed by those of us you defended over here. Even tho your Army, I still say to you.....

I cannot believe there have been so many comments from these awful people. Brandon Friedman (Angry Rakkasan) at least is an example of an American soldier who was good, and wanted the Iraqi people to succeed.

This post did the impossible--whether Edwards can make a respectable showing on Tuesday is less important.

Wow - 1115 comments before I started mine. This guy touched a lot of people who were concerned about this mess of a war. His tragic loss will be mourned and he will be missed. Andrew's work needs to be kept on the web (maybe isn't enough.)

4jk: assuming that you're talking about the comments that have been deleted, you should know that they came from all sides of the political spectrum. Likewise, while the overwhelming majority of those who have left comments here have respected Andy's wishes and left politics out of it, I know enough of them to be able to say: they come from every part of the political spectrum as well.

Andy would have loved this.

Kate Sanford of Silicon Valley Moms linked to this post... I just read it and cried. What an incredible person and what a terrible loss for our country and the world. Seriously, what a very speacial person....


I've never known the privilege of sharing a cold one with you and hearing your laughter, the playful twinkle in your eye I can just visualize when you regale others with your stories. Now I never will - but your words will echo in eternity, as will your love for your family and friends.

I've considered your request to play 80s music in your honor, and combed through my extensive collection - the one that kept coming back at me was Joey Scarbury's 1981 hit single from the TV Show "Greatest American Hero"

Been playing it on repeat since hearing about your passing, and its lyrics, in connection with news of your death, holds a new poignance.

Look at what's happened to me,
I can't believe it myself.
Suddenly I'm up on top of the world,
It should've been somebody else.

Believe it or not,
I'm walking on air.
I never thought I could feel so free-.
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me.

It really should have been someone else.

May your G.A. carry you home on swift wings, and may your love carry Amanda through these dark moments of her loss.

MAJ Andy Olmsted, KIA.

dbomp, Jesurgislac: don't feel alone: I, too had been (screamingly obvious though it was, in retrospect) unaware that "G'Kar" was actually Andrew Olmsted, until I read said fact in the opening of hilzoy's awful post.

My first thought was: "Damn! What an idiot!! (me)" - My second was "Oh my God! Andrew's dead!!! My third: horror at the terrible loss of two brilliant bloggers at once - one and the same man as they were.


[comment deleted by the management]

If you are for this war, fine.
If you are against this war, fine.

But leave your politics at the door or shut up.

This is simply a decent individual who died doing what HE chose to do. God bless him.

wow. nothing i've seen or heard in the media made me think like this post. just wow and i'm so very sorry for his family and friends.

I didn't know Andy Olmsted but for some reason I was drawn to this place and I read what he wanted posted in the event of his death. First, my sincere sympathy goes out to his wife, Amanda, the rest of his family and to all of his many many friends. I believe this world is a better place for having him in it even if it wasn't for a long time. I have always thought that perhaps when looking at the stars, that they are little windows in heaven where loved ones and friends who have gone before us, can look down upon us and see how we are handling things. A childish thought perhaps but I have derived some comfort in it when remembering the people I loved and lost. I honestly believe in the afterlife and so I feel that someday, I will see Andy and the funny thing about this is that I think I will recognize him. Farewell to a good and decent man who died the way he lived by the courage of his convictions.

dbomp: I'm so sorry that the man who gave me that hope is gone.

Please don't give up hope that there are other men like MAJ Olmsted serving in the Army. The number of men in comparison might be greatly reduced if we compared intellectual ability or the eloquence of ones pen. I served with MAJ Olmsted and was lucky to have known him for the number of years I did, but I serve with similar men now as well. Please all of you know that the Armed Forces of today are full of bright, articulate Soldiers. The days of being a PVT Pyle are over; the modern Soldier is a much more intelligent, adaptive... thinking man if you will. MAJ Olmsted was one of the best among us; his presence was missed long before his death, as he moved from our unit training American Soldiers and went to train Iraqi Soldiers. The mission that cost MAJ Olmsted his life was more important then any I can think of, he was helping a foreign nation's Armed Forces become more self reliant, so American's could leave Iraq and return home. MAJ Olmsted was fighting a cause that directing affects every Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Airman. The way he died shows even more his understanding of the Counter Insurgence (COIN) environment, which has several military paradoxes attached to it, one being that in order to be more secure, you must lower your security. MAJ Olmsted's final act was an attempt at preserving life and helping just one more insurgent realize that we are not just there to "occupy" and inflict pain.
MAJ Olmsted loved the Army, he said so himself. Although his frustration was often noted in the way the Army machine operates. I believe it would sadden him to believe that any of you here had lost hope that there are no more members of the military who are free thinkers, who voice their opinions, who do not just follow the path laid before them in the accomplishment of their duties - there are many that remain - although we could always us more.
And so, keep faith with us. Support your Soldiers, if not the war, based on your beliefs. Know that we have not stopped supporting you, the American people. Rest easy the watch is covered.

People must know. RIP Andrew.

Andrew, thanks for living, thanks for thinking, thanks for writing.

I still find myself at a loss for words. Godspeed, Major. My prayers to you and your family.

I have never read a word from this gentlemen until now. I wish I had been following him for the last five years. The planet will certainly have a void without him.
Rest in peace my new and dear friend.

[Comment deleted by The Management.]

"I believe it would sadden him to believe that any of you here had lost hope that there are no more members of the military who are free thinkers, who voice their opinions, who do not just follow the path laid before them in the accomplishment of their duties - there are many that remain - although we could always us more."

You're right, but one still wants to thump the book.

There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.
On the bright side, at least he doesn't have this lumpy thing in his neck.

How many cried while reading this?
How many hugged a loved one?
How many forwarded it to family and friends?
Or how about thinking you are all cried out while reading the comments and then read one more that makes you gush again? Then another.. then another..
Let the haters think I am flaky. I was touched by someone I didn't know.
But so what?
Andy was and is very very real? To say that not knowing him makes it strange to sorrow his loss seems to me a comment on your own inflated self worth.
And to those who feel the need to bring politics into this...
Ponder this, by asking for no politics he brought respect to his opinions from both sides. What respect to you gain by spouting off here? Just the opposite I think.
I think that the comment that is repeated often here that I agree to most is...
I wish I knew him.
Thank god for the "onion" comment or I would be so guilty now.
Wow, what a tribute and outpouring of love.
The number of people he touched...
I got my coke, the 80's are playing...

a toast

To a man who gave his life, trying to save an enemy from death!!!

Somehow he explained a lot for those of us with family members fighting in Iraq, facing the horror of picking up body parts one day and flying reconaissance missions the next. I hope his blog is published and he becomes standard fare in U.S. high schools and colleges.

Australia catches up, via Rupert Murdoch vehicles, and the NY Post article. Australian Herald Sun:

Soldier's note from the grave

January 07, 2008 12:00am

IT was his last post - a touching, funny, but ultimately heart-wrenching message from beyond the grave.

"What I don't want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin," wrote Maj Andrew Olmsted, 38, who on Thursday became 2008's first American war fatality in Iraq.

"I'm dead, but if you're reading this, you're not. So take a moment to enjoy that happy fact."

Maj Olmsted, who also blogged for Denver's Rocky Mountain News, made a pact with a friend to post the prepared statement after his death.

"This is the hardest part," Maj Olmsted wrote.

"While I certainly have no desire to die, at this point I no longer have any worries."

"That is not true of the woman who made my life something to enjoy rather than something merely to survive.

"Now she has to go on without me. I know that this is a terrible burden I have placed on her."

But even facing death, he showed humour, asking loved ones not to mourn but: "Put on a little '80s music, grab a Coke and have a drink with me."

- New York Post

Also the Australian Daily Telegraph:
Soldier's last word from Iraq

By Andrew Olmsted

January 07, 2008 12:00am

ANDREW OLMSTED wanted this story to be published if he died in Iraq. Last Thursday he was shot in an ambush - the first US serviceman to be killed in 2008.
I'M dead. That sucks, [...]

The rest quotes much of his post. Andy would have liked that, as well as really liking the close: "Visit to read Andrew's unedited article"

Lots of past thoughtful posts for people to read there.

Sad and inspiring all at once.

Linked to before in this thread, I want to again note this thread was Andrew showing his silly side. Andy's brother Eric, "Enrak," played, and so this is yet another time I have to apologize for my "outing" him, despite his requests.

But here's what it's like to play with live Andy.

Well, ain't this a hell of a note.

I've never even been to this corner of the blogosphere before. I was linked to an Obsidian Wings blogpost from back in '06, about legislation sponsored by Sen. Obama. I went to Main to see if there had been any updates. I saw this, and had to read it - I have a damn good friend Over There right now.

And here I am, with tears on my face, and a runny nose.

And I want to be all manly and claim it's allergies, but I'm a lousy liar.

Go with God, Major. You died as you lived - with a passionate conviction of your ideals, and a belief that reasonable argument can beat raw hatred.

And it will, in the long run. And you will see it, wherever you are, and know you were right all along.

This profile early in Andy's RMT blogging is also very spot on.

I'd like to thank David Montero, who clearly got to know Andy, for all his articles, earlier and now.

Like many who are attending this wake, I didn't know that G'Kar and Andrew were one in the same. I claim further ignorance that until reading his final note, I never realized that the sig "G'Kar" was a B5 reference - the discussions in which we both participated talked about second amendment issues, not SF stuff. So I missed another telling reference.

I have had this page on my monitor for days now, deciding if I should post given what I _didn't_ know about the man - when I realized that his final message (and the wonders of the twenty-first century that allow me to reference his works at the touch virtual buttons) gave me the chance to play a little catchup. And now I know as much as I can, short of reading more postings from his friends and family.

You were a gentleman, a scholar, and a patriot in the most fundamental sense. Thank you for sharing so much with us, and I'm sorry to have to say "ah - I knew something about you" and "goodbye" at the same time.

My wife and I send our deepest condolences to Andrew's wife Amanda, familiy and friends. As good as Andrew's words were, I'm sure his presence was infinitely better. Please take some consolation in the volume of positive messages and links from peoples of every stripe, and know that if there were some combination of words that could be said to help with your grief all good people would be saying them as loudly and as often as they could.

Everyone who has not read Andrew Olmsted's blog can do so...You found his final post by accident, so get more inspired and read it all. You'll learn a lot (and his friends are still here!)
I read it as a lurker and now, I find have learned something about myself through his final post. If you feel like a read, you can go here:
What I learned about myself gave me a great sense of peace and tomorrow I am closing that book. The afterlife is a brighter place for sure.

I only knew Andy as G'kar on the TrekBBS, so I can't claim to know him as many of you all do.

But this news saddens me. Yet another life lost (Fort Carson has been hit pretty hard).

Per his wish, I will not cry, but instead honor him by thinking about what an incredible thing he did by serving his country, and that he died doing something he loved - which is what I certainly hope happens to me.

"I have had this page on my monitor for days now, deciding if I should post given what I _didn't_ know about the man"

I'm absolutely sure that Andrew would want to hear from everyone with a flattering comment. ;-)

I'm equally sure that Andrew would have enjoyed every complimentary comment.

I only wish blahblahblah. Because I'm sure that's what Andy would have thought, as well.

dbomp, JayC, and Jes - add me to the list of those that didn't know Andy and G'Kar were the same.

And, farewell to both good men.

The blogging community has lost an eloquent spokesperson.

His family and friends have lost more.

My condolences on your loss.

Thanks to those who are bearing the terrible burden of monitoring the blog and sharing Andy's final thoughts.

My heart aches for his family and the years that face them ahead. My heart also worries for those still facing danger, including two of my own cousins who are still in Iraq.

May there be abundant peace from Heaven
and life upon us and all the world.

He Who makes peace in his heights

May He make peace upon us and
peace over all the world.

- The Jewish Prayer of Mourning

I read about this fine soldier throough the blog Blackfive. His final post was difficult to read but beautiful. I will raise my two children (5 and 8) to understand that they must lead lives worthy of the sacrifices being made for them. The memory of Mr. Olmstead and all those that have died in this war will live on in the lives my children lead. I will teach them to be good Americans and never to forget what price was paid for their freedom. God Speed Mr. Olmstead and God Bless your family.

Eric Shirley
Belmont, NH

This is my first time on this blog--I was linked through another.

My heartfelt condolences to his family. I relate to Andy's writing in a personal way, so I can only imagine how hard it must be that he's gone so suddenly.

May you find comfort in your grief and life in Andy's last words.

[Comment deleted. Commenter has been repeatedly banned, and will now be banned again.]

God bless andy's soul and my heart goes out to his family and friends....where would america be without heroes like these...........

My sympathies Amanda & Family.


Patient reminder: not "Olmstead."

Olmsted. The Olmsted family. Olmsted. Olmsted. Olmsted.

Please try to get it right, understandable as the common error is.

Just my condolesence for a great men with a great post. I hope bloggin will change the world in his rememberance.

dictators like hilzoy never learn...banning and censorship is not the answer. free speech *is*.... free speech only has value when things you don't want to hear are allowed to be said

[Two paragraphs deleted by The Management. Commenter banned again.]

Well, I'm glad you are here to show us that you would never invade anywhere because you don't like how they manage things in those places.

Commenting again - looks like Andy will be the focus of a NY Times story tomorrow. A reporter emailed me that they were working on a story for Monday's paper.

I keep coming back again and again, and I've read every comment. Thanks to all of you (well, almost all of you).

Been lurking here forever, so saddened to find this news today. I read his post echoed on Winds of Change, where I know him from, and came here to see... just hell and damn.

Godspeed and farewell, Andy. May your family find grace and peace and joy in their memories of you. Thank you for your time with us and thank you for paying the whole buck-o-five.

[Comment deleted by The Management.]

I am going to grieve Andy but not too much. Even though Andy knew the risks he overcame fear and dread and ventured forth. He demonstrated what is best about people. He did not let the fear hold back knowing the environment. He demonstrated some of the best attributes we have to offer, I will grieve some but also smile and think of how honorable a man he was. Oh yes....he was a man.

Dear repeatedly banned person,

I am deleting all your comments in their entirety. You have been banned repeatedly, and I don't have the patience to ask myself which parts of your comments are particularly objectionable any more.

In the comment I just deleted, you say: "this is a public blog with open commenting." Wrong. This is a public blog, in the sense that anyone can see it. Comments, however, are moderated, as you surely realize. I and the other posters run this blog. We pay for it. We do not have to open it to people who repeatedly demonstrate that they have no interest in respecting the wishes of anyone around them, not to mention the explicit rules we have laid down.

This does not violate freedom of speech, any more than the fact that I can, lawfully, ask you not to stand in my home with a megaphone at 4am reciting the Critique of Pure reason does. You are perfectly free to start your own blog, and I would fight for your right to do that. But that does not mean I have to accept your disrespect for Andy's wishes here.

Hilzoy, thanks for the lengthy response before, but "no" would've sufficed--you needn't explain yourself on this point. I was just coming at it from a distinguished-by-one's-trolls perspective. Oh, and congrats on your promotion to dictator.

I just remembered the first time I commented here--I made a total ass out of myself, Andrew rapped me on the knuckles for it, and as I was trying to slink away he spent far more keystrokes than necessary to keep me from going away mad, even though I wasn't anyway. Most online-sparring types would've just gone for my throat. Hell, I would've.

I guess all that magnanimity of spirit didn't crowd out his courage.

Marbel: Well, I'm glad you are here to show us that you would never invade anywhere because you don't like how they manage things in those places.

*cracks up laughing*

Thanks, I needed that.

[email protected]:05

Elegant. Thank you sir.

I can’t believe how many regulars did not realize that G’Kar was Andrew. I thought it was the worst kept secret in blogville. Not that anyone clued me in – I just thought it was obvious…

I guess if you never picked up on the B5 stuff before maybe not so much…

borehole: yeah, he was like that.

and marbel: I was about to say that that was wonderful, but was distracted by yet another little missive from our troll, and ended up writing my previous comment instead. Thanks to you for writing it, and to Jes for reminding me.

Oh, and congrats on your promotion to dictator.

We should be so lucky...

I know no words or tears can bring him back but I want to say thank you to Andrew for willingly protecting our freedoms as he did. Thank you also Amanda for standing by him as he did so for all Americans. Please accept my deepest sympathies and my prayers for the family and friends of Andrew Olmsted.

OCSteve, I guess I just tend to think that being a Bab5 fan is normal. But yeah, I am a little gobsmacked that I didn't think of it. ("Wait, what, G'Kar is Andrew? What, wait, Andrew's dead?")

The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" said the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under;
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav'ry!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free,
They shall never sound in slavery!"

The Minstrel Boy will return we pray
When we hear the news we all will cheer it,
The minstrel boy will return one day,
Torn perhaps in body, not in spirit.
Then may he play on his harp in peace,
In a world such as Heaven intended,
For all the bitterness of man must cease,
And ev'ry battle must be ended

My children sleep at peace in their beds at night because Andrew Olmsted and men like him stand at arms, out there in places where we regular people don't dare to go.
"Thank you" is pretty weak and simple to say to a man I never knew in life. But perhaps to we, the living, we should all think to ourselves, "Earn this."

May his memory be forever green and alive in the hearts of those who knew him and loved him best.

Interesting to read this from 8 years ago called "reasons why".

I hope that the people who are discovering ObWi after being directed here read other posts and threads. This is one of the most open forums I've seen. This thread is a little special, but the tendency to discuss facts and opinions rather than the people posting them is one of the Guiding Principles of ObWi.

VERY LARGE hat-tip to Gary, Jesu, and especially hilzoy for kicking the scum (regardless of political persuation) off the thread.


(I'm tempted to joke how Andy arranged this just to get out of paying for the disks, and his subscription to my blog, but not really very funny in the slightest.)

You knew him much, much better than I (even allowing for your post of the 5th, 2:57 PM), but from what I read of his posts, it's EXACTLY the kind of thing he'd want said.


Another song for Andrew:

"When I'm on my journey, don't you grieve after me.
Searchin' for a city, don't you grieve after me.
I don't want you to grieve after me.
I hear the trumpets sounding...
We'll sing and shout for glory...
My brother won't you join us..."


The second, third, and fourth, seasons were best, though anyone going for the complete story needs the endpieces.

Thanks. I'd added the first 2 discs from Season 1, but have replaced them with the ones from Season 2.

Appreciate your service, hilzoy, in cleaning up the cesspool.

Way too late, but: oh CRAP.
His post was great, but I sure wish I hadn't had to read it.
I liked his posts best when I disagreed with them--which shows you what kind of blogger, and person, he was.

Note: there are things in comments that I'd like to reply to, and in a few days, when there's a new thread available for such things, I probably will. But how difficult is it to say to yourself "This precious gem of a idea can wait, as long as a whole day or two, and will not wilt on the vine"? How hard is it to realize that this thread, just this ONE, is NOT about you, sterling example of bloggerdom though you might be.

If you have anything to say that MIGHT be offensive, mail it to hilzoy -- let her make the decision, or curb your self-important egoism and post on a more appropriate thread.


dutchmarbel: Touche (without that little accent thing over the 'e' that's called something else because I don't know how to put it there).

The loss of a soldier is a time to mourn and to celebrate. I read of this blog entry in the news and want to say this to this great man's family and friends, your extraordinary service to us all is appreciated. My husband left again today for Iraq, he is an Army doc. He has been blessed with a career that allows him to spend everyday (for 20 years now) caring for those he loves. We love you, we thank you, we celebrate you. Army strong.

Yeah, echoing Jeff: It's not about YOU. Or politics. Or "freedom of speech." It's about Andrew Olmsted. Husband. Friend. Army officer. And someone whose force of personality is such that he can unite people as diverse as hilzoy, Sebastian, von, Charles, OCSteve, Katherine, et al, in appreciation of what a person he was and to command their respect (and many of ours) for his views, even though not all of them agreed with them (either in part or whole).

That's a person who will be sorely missed by everyone. And someone whose memory should be respected by avoiding posts (worthy as they might be) that aren't about him.

It's about him and the way he conducted himself.

Dutchmarbel writes

bq. Well, I'm glad you are here to show us that you would never invade anywhere because you don't like how they manage things in those places.

Bravo! Both ears and the tail!

I read this blog and was nearly brought to full-blown weeping. I served in Iraq with the same unit as this great man and wonder if our paths ever crossed, I truly hope they did. What a complete inspiration. I think his greatest gift was giving a touch of feeling to those numbers that scroll along the bottom of CNN who do not posess the capacity to articulate themselves as fully. Thanks man. I suggest you go to where MAJ Olmsted is close, but no longer at the top of the list and scroll through there as well. Thanks for your gift sir.

It's strange... I posted above (January 05, 2008 at 05:01 AM) and I felt quite *hard* inside. During my time in Cambodia a lifetime ago, one had to become hard to the tragedies. There were just so many. The death of innocents, friends, brothers-in-arms... it all became too much and it was too hard to do the job with all that weighing on one's soul.

The thing that struck me most about Maj. Olmsted, and what prompted me to make the above post, is that he was a man who obviously understood. I believe he coped by using his blogging as an outlet, a way to cope with all the horror, fear, doubts. I am also sure his obvious love for family and mate's were very strong. But most of all... I am struck by his sense of Honor! I use the capital 'H' because he was a man of Honor in the ancient sense of the work. I believe he was that rare breed today.

I think he would want us also to celebrate the life of Cpt. Thomas J. Casey, and not forget his ultimate sacrifice. And all of his brothers, whether he knew them personally or not. I don't think he was a man who wanted people to mourn for him, ego not withstanding. ;) Seriously though, I believe that what he would love the most is for people to learn from him and improve their own lives in someway, and to become less selfish and more generous of spirit.

He strikes me as a man who loved irony, and he would be laughing at his own irony now. :)

hilzoy: I just wanted to thank you so much for all you are doing and have done. You are a true friend to Andrew. I know this is a very hard thing for you to do, but I suspect that it also helps, gives you a purpose... something to do!

To those who would try to disrespect a great human being, you show yourselves to be the tiny nothings you are. Andrew, I am sure, would have shaken his head with a wry smile! None of you can harm him or any of us who understand who he was and what he did for all. What he even did for you pathetic creatures. I laugh at you on his behalf! LOL

Gary Farber: Cut yourself some slack man!! You deserve a great deal of credit also. You obviously have great respect and love for Andrew. And given what I have read, I am certain it was mutual. And I believe Andrew, for all his amazing character and spirit, would not have cared so much for you if you had little worth as a human being and a man. You are a better man than I am!

We are a strange breed we humans! Those like Andrew never truly see the value in themselves, and see only the imperfections and faults, some that don't really exist at all! I think THAT is what makes a man great! Once we think we are so wonderful, so perfect and so flawless, we become the worst a human can be. He was not an arrogant man, he was humble and modest, and kind, and imperfect. The best of us.

We can all learn something from this man. That would make him very happy, and perhaps help his family also! :)

I also feel a pain for his team mates in Iraq. A man such as he would have had a huge impact on them, and they must miss him terribly. Spare a thought for them also.

Gary: I think what you propose with the B5 movies is the right thing to do. Andrew would not have wanted you to give up. Might I also suggest trying to contact J. Michael Straczynski and pointing him to this blog, and Andrews other blogs? Perhaps JMS will be happy to participate in your project? He is currently trying to revive B5 (and Crusade). I think Andrew would have loved to be a part of that. :) Perhaps that may help relieve your (and others) conscience about whether what you are doing is *right* or *legal*!

More info on JMS projects at The Zokalo:

For myself, I would love to help if I can in any way with any project relating to Maj. Andrew Olmsted!

Farewell Andrew. But never Goodbye!

*sigh* Oops! typo.. (See... I sure am NOT perfect!) lol

"...ancient sense of the work." should of course be: "...ancient sense of the word."

One final comment, I think JMS (and Andreas Katsulas, whose birth name was Andrew BTW! May he also Rest In Peace!) would have been pleased with Andrew Olmsted blogging as G'Kar! :) Kindred spirits... ;)

Take care all! :)

It's all so, so sad. When will it ever end :(

Sorry I can't be more profound but I can't find the words.

Pain and tears.

May God have mercy on his soul, and welcome him into eternity.

May God have mercy on all of us.

i generally read, but no longer comment; however, i must add my condolences to the families. i have had the distinct honor and privilege of reading major olmstead's posts here. i am stunned by this loss. may all find the peace and strength they deserve at this time.

Gary Farber: Are you trying to make YOURSELF out as a hero by having known Andrew? Every post mentions you knew him or your connection to him. Give it a break! We know your loss. You are not the first, and will not be the last to have suffered the loss of someone we care for. It appears that you want the glory that Andrew deserves.

NNYGuy (If it isn;t our trollish friend):

And what are your memories of Andrew Olmsted?

I knew Andy at college. I would never presume that he would call me friend, though we had enough mutual friends that we were often in the same place enjoying the same activities. We never spoke afterward graduation, but I always remembered him fondly.

There will be a lot said about Andy, because he wore a uniform, and the manner in which he died. It should be said that for many, many people he was not just a noble figure in a uniform, or even a blogger who happened to wear a uniform.

It was the mid-80’s, and some high school seniors came around in a tour of local colleges. It was evening, and they were all in the main campus square waiting for their bus. One of them buttonholed me with questions about the social and political ‘atmosphere’ at the school. He was a freckly kid with a crooked smile and big ears that stood right out from his head. He looked right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. He liked the programs at the school but was concerned that his political views would not fit in (he was conservative, the school had/has a liberal reputation). It was a fun conversation, he was obviously intelligent. I remember assuring him that as long as he was reasonable and open-minded that he would find like-minded people. Besides, what university would he find in Massachusetts that wasn’t liberal?

The following year he showed up on campus. He called himself conservative, but I always thought that was just in relation to everybody around us. I found him to be a reasonable, if overly opinionated guy. I also found him to be smarmy, sarcastic, condescending, and short-tempered (but then so was I). That’s the stuff age knocks out of you. But his gregarious nature always trumped political differences when it came to dealing with friends. He was also a sci-fi/role-playing/comics nerd, which put us strongly in the same camp. He always seemed to be around at house parties and Superbowl parties.

He was also the only student we knew who was in ROTC, who did stuff like training with TOW missiles. He was low-key about it, but made no secret about the role he wanted to play should service be necessary. I recall telling him that Soviet tanks had really, really left Eastern Europe, and he was actually a bit disappointed; he wanted to be part of that greater adventure, to be on the side of right in a great struggle. I don’t know if that was part of his inner drive to keep doing what he did, I can’t really claim to have known him at all. I’ll just say that he was always somebody who would put himself out there.

But I never saw Andy in his uniform, never saw him take or give an order. I just remember a whip smart, funny, highly imaginative, decent guy. I also remember a socially clumsy young man with some missing front teeth (from a baseball accident) who somehow managed to win over Amanda, his superior in both intellect and looks. Somebody who did not deserve to die. His family certainly has memories far more intimate and painful, of a young child they raised, who did not deserve to die. And Amanda, her memories are beyond our imagining.

But what we deserve seldom has anything to do with what we get. Andy chose his path from a clear set of principles and a strong sense of right and wrong, which means he was just the right guy to send over there. I know that whatever happened, in the end, he was either doing right, or trying to stop something wrong. And that’s enough to make me glad that I knew him, however briefly.

I read this last post. I hope and pray that one day human beings can learn to live with one another in peace.

I'm not certain how we'll get there, but I believe it is possible.

And it is that belief that reveals hope for humanity to be worthy of our vulnerability in embracing it.

This man, this voice has been silenced, but in as much as his desires for a world of peace and justice remains within us he has not be conquered by death.

His body returns from whence it came, but his spirit lives on.

It was a privilege reading his thoughts, communing with him in this way.

We must remember that we will all be dead soon enough. It is therefore, how we choose to live our life that matters.

Peace and Love
It is the only way.

Eugene Knox
Springfield, Illinois


Andrew obviously means quite a lot to Gary, OK.

I understand you as well, I sometimes get uncomfortable when people are very demonstrative about their grief. People mourn differently, deal with it.

This does not violate freedom of speech, any more than the fact that I can, lawfully, ask you not to stand in my home with a megaphone at 4am reciting the Critique of Pure reason does.

OMG, that sounds like an awesome way to remember Andrew! How does next Friday sound for everyone?

Thank you. Godspeed. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your wife, your family.

@ Gary-I'm equally sure that Andrew would have enjoyed every complimentary comment. I only wish blahblahblah. Because I'm sure that's what Andy would have thought, as well.

Well Gary, yes, but you do know that Andy would have welcomed every challenging post as well, with a wry smile and stuttered finger. He couldn't type all that well. Write yes; type no. Poor bastard.

Just a quick note to let you know that the death of Andrew has touched us in Australia. What a wonderful man. Lots of virtual hugs to his family.
Julie and Kenn Brown
Port Macquarie

I must admit, I had never have commented on this blog until now, but have read it for awhile... however, I will say this, I am so so sorry for his loss, he truly will be missed. My prayers go out to all of y'all that have been touched by his life.

Starkville, Mississippi

Some less than gentlemanly comments here remind me of a statement attributed to Voltaire, and one that Andy Olmsted (the Soldier and man I certainly knew) would stand behind:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Whether we agree or not with many of the statements posted in this blog, MAJ Olmsted's and CPT Casey's conduct in combat are in keeping with MEN OF ACTION. These actions are such that we should recognize in a non-partisan fashion that our rights are being upheld. American Soldiers have died so we all have the opportunity to speak openly about our beliefs and opinions.

The shitbirds (sorry, couldn't resist) who attempt to malign MAJ Olmsted and CPT Casey do so at our embarrassment only, because they have no shame.

Soldier on Andy & John, my greatest respects,

RedHawk 6

Goodbye, Andrew.

I've toasted Andrew with 80s music on, asked my curling team to raise a glass to his memory, and put the Olmsted family on my church prayer list.

In the ongoing conversation about where we go from here, I will miss his voice, while remembering the horrible irony that the unique voices of those people willing to totally commit themselves, even in dangerous situations, means they will face danger, and that sometimes they will not come back.

But I think something else has happened here, that Andrew's last post has let the a catharsis for many of us, and the we will not approach this conversation in quite the same way again. He has, perhaps, induced us to approach this conversation with new seriousness. As I read it, his post hints that he wanted that, although I doubt, given his modesty, that he ever expected to have so wide an effect.

Farewell, Andrew Olmsted. And thanks.

Farewell and thank you for sharing your heart,and your soul.
May You rest well.

My sincerest condolences to Andy's family and wife. I have not known him or read any of his blog entries before, but his last words have moved me to tears.

"Some who live deserve death, but many who die deserve life, can you give it back to them?"
Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring

Maj. Olmstead's statement, "Soldiers cannot have the option of opting out of missions because they don't agree with them: that violates the social contract...," brought to mind a conversation I had with my brother in 1975.

I was 11 and my brother was 18, having barely "escaped" participation in the Vietnam draft. I knew that he disagreed with our participation in the war there, though he did not protest publicly. But I asked him one night, "We support our elected government, even if we didn't vote for them or agree with them, right? You would go to Vietnam if you were drafted, wouldn't you?" His reply was a fast, unequivocal, "Yes," on both counts.

That short conversation and realization was a moment and memory as valuable and powerful to me as any coursework or dialogue including those I would encounter in the following 10 years, as student of American history and poli-science, completing my honors thesis and moving into a career of public service. It was a moment like that of the one when I heard of Maj. Olmstead's death-- a moment that never fails to leave me proud-- in a shattered, scared and devastated sort of way. Rest in Peace, Major.

Normally Im not a big admirer of officers, I think I would have liked Andy though.

Sad loss, but what a tremendous attitude, not to mention sense of humour/irony.

My sincere condolences to those left behind. I hope Andy's message will be a source of comfort in due course.

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