Saturday, January 05, 2008

Military voices

By Carol Gee

Despite a looming New Hampshire presidential primary, there are other things going on in the world that are newsworthy. We are still losing soldiers in Iraq.

-- This photo was taken for the Army by Spc. Christa Martin in 2006. The subject of it is the training Iraqi soldiers, which was the specialty of Army blogger Andy Olmsted, who lost his life on January 3, the day of the Iowa caucuses. He was the first casualty in 2008.

"Rocky Mountain Blogger Major Andrew Olmsted Killed in Iraq" (from the Rocky Mountain News) was included at the Memeorandum website this morning. The story was rich and well-written and included a wonderful photo of Major Olmsted. His final post was put up for him at the Major's request after his death by "hilzoy" of Obsidian Wings. Please take the time to read this amazing and heart-rending post. To quote Hilzoy,

Andy was a wonderful person: decent, honorable, generous, principled, courageous, sweet, and very funny. The world has a horrible hole in it that nothing can fill. I'm glad Andy -- generous as always -- wrote something for me to publish now, since I have no words at all. Beyond: Andy, I will miss you.

UPDATE: Somehow, I thought that given Andy's wish that his death not be politicized, people would refrain from political rants. Most of you have, for which I thank you. Anyone who does not respect his wishes, in this thread, will have his or her comment deleted.

The Department of Defense announced the death of Major Olmsted and his companion, Cpt. Thomas J. Casey, 32, of Albuquerque, N.M. in a news release here. Casey's Albuquerque story is in that town's ABQJournal. Casey's wife and children had lived mostly in Reno, Nevada.

The DoD website also features a Bloggers' Roundtable. "Chap" at Milblogs posted today about these two military men at the Mudville Gazette.

"Worth returning to from time to time," is how "lapopessa" titled her February post of last year, which I kept up in my Bloglines feed. Thanks to her for this link that is now so very timely: Fight to Survive -- (most recent post by Jeff Englehart on 12/27/07) The site's Intro explains who they are:

The E-4 Mafia was a group of soldiers deployed in Iraq between January of 2004 and March of 2005. The posts from this period are an expression of our raw emotions and thoughts while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Since being honorably discharged in the summer of 2005, we've continued to post additional journal entries, poetry, and reflections from our time served and our current lives as veterans as we continue our Fight to Survive.

This post is not about politics today, out of my deep respect for the wishes of fellow blogger, Andy Olmsted. It is intended to be about true patriotism, about genuine perspective, and about admiration for beautiful writing. We are poorer for the loss of these two good men. Take some time to read read and explore their stories; I cannot think of a better way to honor and support our military men and women at the beginning of this new year.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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  • Terribly heartbreaking. My condolences to the family of Major Andy Olmsted. It is a loss that touches me because it can happen to my daughter, who is currently serving in Iraq (her third deployment). Like any parent, I fear for her and the lives all those serving there.

    I had a surprise on Christmas Day. My daughter, Captain Jennifer, was on CNN. A video segment called Christmas in Iraq.

    She is the one wearing the green Christmas pom pom.

    By Blogger Swampcracker, at 7:45 PM  

  • This suggestion is courtesy of Fontana Labs at

    Hilzoy passes along a suggestion from members of Andrew Olmsted's family: if you want to do something to honor him, consider a donation to a fund to help the children of Thomas Casey, who died in the same ambush.

    Contributions can be sent here:

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

    By Blogger Swampcracker, at 9:40 PM  

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