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January 04, 2008


I am so sorry to hear that. My thoughts and prayers are with y'all and his family.

God Bless.

"hilzoy, if you could (eventually) get in touch with Andrew's family"

That's not hard to do, but I can't imagine, just now, what any of us could possibly do.

Andy has a loving family. A loving brother, mom and dad, aunts and uncles. As with most families, he was a product of them without always agreeing with every opinion of everyone. But they all stayed in close touch with him, and they all loved each other deeply.

I am just so so sorry for them.

Andy's blog and final post are, it turns out, here.

If anyone missed his newspaper blog, it's here.

sidereal: I will try to do that, though probably not for a few days -- they probably have enough on their plate just now.

Oh my God.

I'm one of the ObWi readers who migrated over from Legal Fiction with Publius. At first I didn't take to the other bloggers, but soon I was reading every post with attention and enjoyment.

G'Kar, as I knew him, will be a presence missed from my life. This made me sad. But let me add, what fine final words.

Goodbye, Andrew.

I certainly won't use your death as a debating point about the Iraq war. But I hope it's ok if I remember you in my heart when I reflect on the awfulness of this war. I don't think I'll be able to stop myself.

Crap. Why am I so emotional about someone I only knew via a few teensy little patterns of dark on a white background?

Yossarian decided to change the subject. [...] 'I'll bet I can name two
things to be miserable about for every one thing you can name to be
thankful for.'

'Be thankful you're healthy'
'Be bitter you're not going to stay that way.'
'Be glad you're even alive.'
'Be furious you're going to die.'
'Things could be much worse,' she cried.
'They could be one hell of a lot better,' he answered

http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/sipb/user/yoav/text/text/The_Soldier_Who_Saw_Everything_Twice>Joseph Heller, Catch-22


God bless him, and his family.

When I read something like the smart, funny, gentle post he left you with, I get a glimpse of how much was lost in his being killed, and it's far more terrible than I can say.


What a loss. My condolences to his family and friends.

I’ve stopped by Obsidian Wings only a few times in the past. Reading this, I see it was my loss missing G’Kar’s posts.

Reading through the comments it appears Andrew Olmstead was a major. From a former O4, Godspeed brother. It was a privilege reading your final post. And while you may be correct about the afterlife in the sense you wrote, know that after life you will continue in the hearts of those who knew you and learned of you.

[Comment deleted by The Management.]

I never followed his writing before reading this post, but from this, he was a pretty great guy.

My condolences to all who knew and loved him.

Like hilzoy, I guess I was luckier than Sebastian and LB, because I can weep at home rather than at work.

It was an honor to have known Andrew, even only through the internet.

My deepest condolences to his family.

As close as I can find to what I'd like to say, if I had the words:

Multās per gentēs et multa per aequora vectus
adveniō hās miserās, frāter, ad īnferiās,
ut tē postrēmō dōnārem mūnere mortis
et mūtam nēquīquam alloquerer cinerem.
quandoquidem fortūna mihī tētē abstulit ipsum.
heu miser indignē frāter adēmpte mihi,
nunc tamen intereā haec, prīscō quae mōre parentum
trādita sunt trīstī mūnere ad īnferiās,
accipe frāternō multum mānantia flētū,
atque in perpetuum, frāter, avē atque valē.

Carried across many nations and many seas,
I arrive, Brother, at these miserable funeral rites,
So that I might bestow you with the final gift of death
And might speak in vain to the silent ash.
Because Fortune has stolen you yourself from me,
Ah, unhappy brother stolen wrongly from me,
Nevertheless, however, receive now these which in the ancient custom
Of our parents were handed down as a sad gift for funeral rites,
these flowing with much brotherly weeping,
And forever, Brother, hail and farewell.

Catullus 101

Well, now that I've had a bit more time to re-read Andrew's post, and think about things... I still don't have much more coherent than what I said the first time.


Times like this are what profanity is for. I mostly only ever knew Andrew from his posts, and occasionally arguing with him. But for all that, he showed himself to be basically decent and honest and thoughtful. Another good man gone, and he will be missed.

I've known several people in the military, but none were posted to the "front" in Iraq, ill-defined as that is. And they all came home safe and have gotten out of the military. So Andrew's the first Iraq death I've known firsthand, not friend of a friend. The AP article is almost heartbreaking in its own way, because it doesn't, it can't tell any of the story of the people who it talks about.



A wonderful writer and honorable, courageous man. My prayers are with his family and friends.

"Life isn't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all."

-- William Goldman, _The Princess Bride_

Godspeed, Andy. We miss you already.

Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Rest in peace, Andrew.

"Reading through the comments it appears Andrew Olmstead was a major."

Olmsted. Not "Olmstead."

Andy was in the reserve a couple of years ago, working to get back to being Regular Army.

Given the circumstances, his move was less difficult than it otherwise would have been a couple of years before.

How unspeakably tragic. This is the type of feeling it's easier not knowing how to feel when watching the Honor Roll at the end of the PBS NewsHour.

To Gary @ 3:08 -- I was saddened when Andrew "left" the blog due to his return to active duty, and never put the pieces together that "G'Kar" was he; I must have been offline when you sussed it out. I wish I had known, as now it seems like two people I respected greatly are gone forever.


In my limited contact with Andy - which was thanks to you, hil - I had already come to feel enormous affection for him. Enormous.

Requiescat in pace, Andy. There should have been so much more for you.

I am heartbroken. I only ever knew "G'Kar" through his writing and for too, too, brief a time. This is terrible news. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. This is a terrible loss for them, and for us. He had so much to contribute--he was already offering so much--I can't begin to grapple with the loss they must be feeling.

all my thoughts

oh, how horrible.

My condolences to his family. And personal regret that we're losing an outstanding writer.

God DAMN it. nthr gd ffcr lst t Bsh nd Chn. Mn RLL wnt ths fckrs n prsn. Dth s t gd fr thm.

[Partially disemvowelled by the management. Commenter banned under the 'calling for assassination' rule.]

My condolences to his family. This is terrible news.

For the record, G'Kar's (not Andrew's!) first comment here: February 22, 2007 at 12:49 PM.

My response:

[...] Are you, perchance, serving in the Army, G'Kar? Have you possibly posted here before, under another name? (If so, you needn't say which, of course; I'm just curious.)
From February 22, 2007 at 12:57 PM

No more B5 jokes to come.

Please accept my condolences, however belated. I'm very sorry for his loss.

Thanks, Gary. I was *definitely* offline then, on the Mexican Riviera.

If there is consciousness of this world after death, I do hope Andrew realizes how much he was valued in life.

Amd while I'm blithering, I'll note that it was me who suggested to Hilzoy that this "Andrew Olmsted" guy would be a good candidate for blogging here.

I pointed out this blog to him, and him to Hilzoy, which resulted in Hilzoy and company's invitation to blog here. After I introduced Andrew to Hilzoy, and suggested it.

It's all about me, after all. My pain, my hurt, me, me, me.


Wow, reading this I'm reminded what a warm, funny, decent person he was. He'll be missed.

You are all blessed to have had someone like this, able to write of his own passing, and to live as if it were tomorrow.

MAJ Olmsted was a friend, someone with whom I shared multiple long conversations with. Funny how he mentions blogging with those he felt had superior intelligence to his own, which is always how he made me feel. I will miss his humor, intelligence and his impression of Dr. Evil ("I think I will call him mini me!"). Sir, it was a joy to have served with you, your leadership and mentoring will always be remembered. I will see you at the top of the hill, you lead the way, and I will follow.

Holy Crap.

What a wonderful, brave, and insightful man.
My deepest and most heartfel condolences go out to all who knew and loved him. You were honored to have known such a man, I think. I am floored by his words, and am teary eyed as I type this.


Holy Crap.

What a wonderful, brave, and insightful man.
My deepest and most heartfel condolences go out to all who knew and loved him. You were honored to have known such a man, I think. I am floored by his words, and am teary eyed as I type this.


My condolences to his family and friends. A sad loss.

Hilzoy, I was struck by the part where he said his blogging was by its nature ephemeral. Does anyone out there have their own server and can archive his own blog in memoriam?
It'd be a nice touch.

Regards, Cernig @ Newshoggers

"You are all blessed to have had someone like this, able to write of his own passing, and to live as if it were tomorrow."

Nothing personal, and no offense intended, but piss on that. Better to still have him. He owes me comments on stuff.

I was writing an e-mail to him this morning.

I was on the way out to the post office, an hour before hearing, solely to mail him the disks I'd been recording all week, a few hours ago.

Still adjusting to that.

I was looking forward to what he thought of the movies. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, included.

It was a big part of my morning.

A few hours ago.

I can only imagine how Andy's troop feels, let alone his family.

"To the everlasting glory of the Infantry—"

Though I didn't know you, the message rings true. You will be remembered by this dirt sailor, and continue on in my heart and others. Semper Fortis.

/hat over heart

It's been a few years since I last shared an email with Andrew, or since we communicated with each other on our respective blogs. I would drop-in to read his posts now and then, and always enjoyed them. He was indeed a person who valued truth and wisdom over winning an argument. People come no braver or honest. Or smart. He was always too humble. I will miss him. My sincerest condolences to his family.

I'm so, so sorry. I couldn't have imagined; should've, but couldn't.

I'm so, so sorry. I couldn't have imagined; should've, but couldn't.

"All life, every life. We are all born as ... molecules ... in the hearts of a billion stars. Molecules that do not understand politics, policies or differences. Over a billion years we foolish molecules forget who we are and where we came from. In desperate acts of ego ... we give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and pretend that our light is better than everyone else's. The flame reminds us of the piece of those stars that lives on inside us. The spark that tells us ... "you should know better". The flame also reminds us that life is precious, as each flame is unique. When it goes out, it's gone forever ... and there will never be another quite like it. So many candles will go out tonight. I wonder some days ... if we can see anything at all."

Delenn in Babylon 5.
"And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder".

We will all miss you, G'Kar

Probably the best thing you can do for people after you die is to leave them good jokes. Mostly because it drags them rather forcibly back to the time when you were around, if only for a moment.

I've only visited ObWi a few times (so many good blogs to visit, so little time) so I've missed most of what G'Kar wrote. This left me infinitely sad, bttr t th lss f nthr lf fr nthng, dtrmnd t s n nd t ths stpd wr. Grg W. Bsh nd Rchrd Chn r th lckst ppl n th wrld - f thr wr n jstc t ll, w wld lng g hv strngld ths tw bstrds wth thr wn ntstns.

[partially disemvowelled by the management.]

Members of his unit are putting together a fund for a gift for the family, something to honor his life. We are allowing time for his family to put together their wishes before we implement anything. As this is worked out, I will post here again to allow Andy's family here to join his Army family in grieving with his nuclear family.

I hate to admit this, but I don't read OW very much. So I am not familiar with Andy's writings.

Now I see how much I missed out on, and now it's too late.

Fucking hell. A good man's down for the count - intelligent, brave, of noble spirit. I'll miss reading him.

And Gary, don't beat yourself up for posting so much about how bad you feel. That's the whole point of a wake.

I only knew him from his writing when I would read here at Obsidian Wings. I certainly admired his choice in nom de plume, recognizing the qualities that I'd loved so much about the character whose name he'd chosen that Gary pointed out. His final post was just so moving it left me speechless. This writing is only after having moved on and read other comments, links and just a bit of thought. My sympathies and condolences to his friends and family, just his writing is enough to know some minor part of your loss and I truly regret that anyone has this pain and that the world has lost such a thoughtful man.

I used to comment quite a bit on Andrew's blog, Gary. I remember when he closed it down and when announced his deployment. I thought he'd be okay- most are. Just saw the announcement of his death on LG&M. I can't fathom it. He was a man of honor and commitment, always fair-minded. He struggled to find the truth. This is horrible. May he rest in peace.

Thank you for doing that, and for letting us know.

I thought that i had see to much death, While working in Dover A.F.B. To feel this much pain from someone i had never met before, Thank you Andy for letting me feel again, god bless you.

Although it's been linked to before, I note that -- unnamed -- Andy hit a milestone:

Military: Three U.S. soldiers killed in first reportd 2008 fatalities
I have no doubt whatever that he'd be dryly proud of being first of the year.

Really, he'd find that funny, I bet anything.

So I'm trying to laugh with him.

I'm trying.

I think he'd like that.

And that he's getting to explore what it's like Beyond The Rim.

I am Amanda's sister in law and we were with Andy 2 months ago when he was home for a funeral. We will miss him very much and for Amanda we love you and will be here for you. Mr. and Mrs. Olmsted our deepest sympathy. Andy, you are the true American Soldier that Toby Keith sang about.

Gary: in the "irony of ironies" vein: the last thing I said to Andy, at 8:40 am as he was heading out to what turned out to be his last mission, was: "Have a great day. Bye."

I wish he could read the comments here. I don't think he ever actually believed that what he wrote had any real impact. (He could be insecure that way: compliments bounced right off him.) It would mean the world to him And now it never will.

This is just so incredibly sad. Speechless.

This still hasn’t sunk in. His last letter is a work of art. Even in this situation he managed to give me a chuckle or two (on second/third reading).

I’m thankful for the time he shared with us, especially since he deployed. I wondered that he had the strength to be out in that mess day after day and yet still find time to put up a post here.

This must have been a hard task for you hilzoy, but you kept your promise with great dignity and respect.

My condolences to Mr. Olmstead's family and friends. It seems the world has lost a unique voice.

Rest in peace, brother. Save a seat for me. You will be greatly missed...

-Wolf in Colorado

I enjoyed reading his trenchant comments here. I am sitting at the computer feeling a certain heaviness coming over me, like Dylan's "Long black cloud." (Knocking on Heaven's Door). I am sorry that this stupid war is taking so many good and brave people from us.

No point in being human, if you don't know the world will break your heart, in the end.

Rest in Peace -- and, to an American soldier: thanks.

Just checked. I have 84 emails from Andrew in my email files.

A fair number I meant to get around to responding to, and never did.

Of course, I wouldn't feel in the least better if I'd mailed off those DVDs last week.

The thing I hate most about death is a very selfish thing: it's the gap between my understanding of the fact that -- suddenly, as a matter of minutes or hours -- I can no longer pick up the phone, punch in some numbers, and expect to reach that person, either then and there, or within hours, and that if I send an email, where I might have expected an answer only minutes or hours ago, I no longer can -- and the reality that this is so.

It's a gap I can't close quickly. I don't grasp it at all well, despite the repetition.

We're here.

And then, suddenly: the flame is out.

How does that happen? How can so much disappear just like that?

Someone dies, and a universe is snuffed out.

The onetime love of my life died three years ago this week, about which I've still been unable to write (like so many other things).

I have to say that I'm starting to not like Januaries, and deaths therein.

That's really sad...my condolences to your family during this difficult time.

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Rest in peace, Andy...and thank you for what you gave us here. We often didn't deserve the generosity and sincerity of your writing, and we certainly didn't deserve your sacrifice.

My condolences go out to Amanda and the Olmsted family.

It fuckin' sucks. But I just read all that, and I never met the guy. And I have to say, "What a man!"

Blue skies brother.

It's the Olmsted's of the world who assure the rest of us the chance to die in our beds of old age.

Bless his brave heart...ALL their brave hearts.

Thank you, Soldier.

My most sincere condolences.

Andrew and I had numerous exchanges on Winds of Change. He will be sorely missed.

Damn. Fuckin damn.

I have never been to this site before today. Andy was my cousin and I was searching for information, comfort and I guess meaning. Thank you for posting his final blog.
Andy was a great person and will be missed greatly.

My most sincere condolences.

Andrew and I had numerous exchanges on Winds of Change. He will be sorely missed.

Damn. Fuckin damn.

Oh, this is terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible.

Obviously, we all understood that this might happen, but the odds of tragedy befalling any individual person in Iraq are slim enough that I really hoped it wouldn't. What a good soul we have lost.

What I'll miss most about Andrew is that as much as this war has been discussed in terms of lies and spin since day one, I always knew Andrew was someone I could trust. His opinions were so unvarnished and agenda-free that if he said, "things are looking better," I never for a second thought that he might be sugar-coating it or spreading propaganda. I don't know who I will look to for an honest perspective from that part of the world now.

Godspeed, Andrew, and thank you for everything.

I met Andrew over lunch one day.

I just can't believe it.

John, I really don't think a wake - even an online one - is the time to say something like that. We're mourning a person: let's leave politics out of it. (And I agree with you, politically: but I'm damned if I want anyone making politics at the wake.)

Gary: The thing I hate most about death is a very selfish thing: it's the gap between my understanding of the fact that -- suddenly, as a matter of minutes or hours -- I can no longer pick up the phone, punch in some numbers, and expect to reach that person, either then and there, or within hours, and that if I send an email, where I might have expected an answer only minutes or hours ago, I no longer can -- and the reality that this is so.

Yeah, that's exactly it. And jesus fuck it hurts.

Way to go, John! Didn't take you very long to violate Andrew's last wish. Good job!

A fine blogger and a fine man, and a great loss. Words fail.

Every time I read something he wrote it reminded me of the person I want to be. Honest, forthright, humble, slow to judge and quick to empathize. Each time was a little reminder to pay attention to my words, actions, and thoughts, to try to bring them more closely into line with the virtues of a good person, as best I understand them. In this, G'Kar helped me to be a better person. That is the only way to make a better world - help each other to be better people. Visions of grand sweeping movements or sophisticated policies tied up with technological wizbangery are illusory. We make the world better one person at a time, striving to be better ourselves, helping others to be better people, and refraining from deliberately or accidentally placing obstacles in anyone's path.

Thank You, Major Olmsted.

He is far too humble to have mentioned this about himself, but I'm under no such constraints:

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
- George S. Patton

Thank God for Major Olmstead and Captain Tom Casey. Better men than me, without whom this nation would be nothing.

God bless and keep you close.

I never knew the man, or even read his posts.

This is my first time ever visiting this blog.

However I honor the man Major Olmsted was, the service he rendered, and the sacrifice he made.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

I must express my surprise and dismay however that so many of the posters have been unable to respect his last wish that his death not be used for political reasons. Do you really think you honor this hero's memory by attacking Pres. Bush and Vice President Cheney here?

Thanks for turning things political, John.

You stay classy, boy.

I don't visit this blog much, I just happened to follow a link on Instapundit. My condolances to everyone that knew and loved Andrew Olmsted. I found his parting words very profound and meaningful.

As I cry for him, may I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends. I'm so very very sorry.

While there are milbloggers, he will be well remembered and many a glass will be raised in his honor in the future.

He has given all. Rest in Peace Andrew.

"I don't think he ever actually believed that what he wrote had any real impact. (He could be insecure that way: compliments bounced right off him.)"

Yes, I argued with him about this, as well. I kept trying to convince him that he was quite an articulate and clear writer. Never seemed to get very far.

And tried to convince him that I wasn't intending to disrespect his points when I, as is my wont, went off on trivial digressions inspired by something he wrote. I don't think I ever convinced him I wasn't just missing his points, but that's something we'll never straighten out now.

What I'm glad is that we actually stopped speaking for most of a year, almost a couple of years ago, and we eventually got past that, after some discussion of certain frictional experiences between us, and were friends again thereafter.

Andy had a temper, which he mostly but not entirely kept private. I guess I'm glad we were friends enough that he could take it out on me now and again, and then apologize, and we got past it.

I know, though, that it will be a while before it's all real to me, and not just an iteration of what I imagined, dreaded, feared, would happen.

Every day I've worried about Andrew. I swear. I kept imagining this day.

I have a bad knack for imagining nightmares that come true. Though this one just touches me glancingly, and doesn't overwhelmingly change my life the way this will have changed Amanda's.

I have to say that I'm pretty much in a life sucks and then you die mode of looking at the world just now. I know it's better out there for many, but I only know it abstractly, just now.

Same old same old, and shutting up now.

He doesn't want anybody to make a point about the war with his death, so I won't make a point about the war with his death. The case for peace doesn't need any deaths, just an appreciation of life.

I wish I'd read him more often. At least his thoughts will live on in the archives.

And since he didn't leave us a weepy note, I guess we should have an Irish wake instead of a funeral. Booze, jokes, and song all around!

Very sad but moving words. My condolences to Andrew's family.

Unbelievably sad. Reminds me of a line in "Time Remaining"

"Not so evermany, but one, so evermany times."

God rest his soul.

It looks like Andrew was a major Babylon 5 fan.

Just wanted to express my condolences to his family. He joined the armed forces knowing that he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. That is the definition of a hero and a patriot.

"Again...not trying to turn things political..."


A good man dies and you use the occasion of his death to ride your fucking hobby horse.

Fuck you

I just discovered this blog via a post at Blackfive - reading back though it, I missed a good one.

Someone said that JMS should be "pinged" - I sent out an email to what I believe is his email address, so...


If any of Andrew's family are reading this, please know: that I was very proud to know him, even slightly. It is a bitter loss, even for those of us who only knew him online.

You know, Hilzoy often gets it right. But what she said above, about what a shame it was that Andrew never truly realized how special he was, really, really gets it right. Well, we still know.

Added to the list of things that Andrew would have gotten a kick out of – he got Glenn to comment at ObWi. ;)


Not to disagree with anything written here, but a fairly strong argument could be made that Bush [blahblahblah]


Again...not trying to turn things political

Fuck off and die now, please.

Come back another time, when you're not lying about "not trying to turn things political," asshole.

Meanwhile, your soul is rotten, and your penis should shrivel up and drop off, motherfucker.

Oh, wait, it already has.

There, that's better.

It was my pleasure and privilege to have shared drinks and conversation with Andrew on several occasions. He was one of the good ones.

He'll be missed.

My condolences to his family. I've read some of his blogs, enough to know that he will be truly missed and that the loss of this man is the loss of one of our best.

Please let's not jump on John for pointing out what many of us know to be true.

My first time visiting this blog. I hope in the days that follow that followup information is posted on how to help Major Olmsted's family.

War, no matter your politics, is ALWAYS tragic, and brings death and ruin to all. May we honor his words and think about it before rushing into war again.

I didn't know him. But I have an intense gratitude for him and all others who are willing to defend our country. It's a job I am physically incapable of doing. I am glad there are those who can and do. The loss of any of them is a loss to us all.

My condolences to his family. I am as sorry for your loss as I am grateful for his service.

I didn't know the man, but I was moved to tears by his posting. It's a shame that the reaction of some is to curse God or insert the political against his wishes, or to try to bring undue attention to oneself. Obviously, Andy was a man of honor and courage and things besmirch that, sad to say.

To all who responded today, I thank you for talking about my cousin Andy. He was the man you got to know here and one more thing, He loved his family tremendously. He and Amanda made evey family reunion here in Maine that they could, we will all miss him. So keep your comments coming, it will over time help us all remember him and laugh and cry and be thankful we knew him.

It's not every day that a blog post touches me beyond words.

No idea what else to say, other than that I extend my condolences to everyone who knew this amazing man.

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