This post is unforgivably late, due to technical problems, but no less important.
Major Andrew Olmsted, the blogger and columnist, was killed in action January 3 in As Sadiyah (via Marginal Revolution). Maj. Olmsted, 37, was from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Captain Thomas J. Casey, 32, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was killed in the same engagement. Both were assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.
Here is the Army’s announcement (via Bill Roggio). Here is Maj. Olmsted’s blog. Here is his final post, published by his co-blogger hilzoy at Obsidian Wings. He also wrote at Winds of Change and the Rocky Mountain News; here are his columns. Here is a story introducing him to the paper’s readers before he deployed.
I remember when Instapundit linked Maj. Olmsted’s essay on his reasons for going to Iraq, last June. In his first column for the Rocky Mountain News, Maj. Olmsted noted that his team’s mission, though critical, was hard for the media to cover, and he hoped to provide that perspective for Americans at home:
MiTT training is difficult to report on effectively because what they do is very incremental. We’re not going to change the Iraqi Army into a completely new entity in a week or a month or a year. If I’m extremely successful, I still don’t expect to see huge changes in how my assigned unit operates on the day I leave; that’s not how progress works in that kind of environment. A reporter simply can’t spend the kind of extended time with an Iraqi unit to see big improvements; no news organization could afford to detail out its limited resources to such a long-term assignment.
Which brings us back to this blog. I won’t pretend to be objective. It’s my job to help the Iraqis improve, and when I see success you’ll read about it here. But because I will be on the scene, I hope to bring a snapshot of what so many U.S. troops are doing back for the average American to read about and understand.
It’s beyond humbling to work, however indirectly, with Americans like Maj. Olmsted. His final post inspired tributes around the blogosphere, and not just from milbloggers:
- Tigerhawk: “The most moving post [that will be] written all this year.”
- Blackfive: “Just a month ago, I was interviewed by Chicago Magazine where the reporter asked me what blogs I read – I gave her Mudville, Mike Yon, Acute Politics and Andrew Olmsted.”
- Robert Scoble: “His blog post that he had a friend post after his death is wonderful.”
- Alex Tabarrok: “[V]ery painful to read and also funny and sad.”
- Glenn Reynolds: “Blogger Andrew Olmsted has died in Iraq.“
- Joe Katzman: “I am very grateful that he lived, and that others like him live still.” Also many touching comments from Winds of Change regulars.
- Neo-Neocon: “[C]haracteristically touching, thoughtful, and humorous.”
- Tanker Brothers: “The heavens are richer”
- The Daily Brief: “One of the very first milbloggers (and my personal favorite)”
- A Soldier’s Mind: “Major Andrew Olmsted died doing a job that he loved….. leading his Soldiers.”
- Jammie Wearing Fool: “[I]n keeping with his final requests I have posted some videos. WILCO, Sir!”
- Monkeyfister: “Above everything, he was an American, and he served this Nation to his end.”
- The Belmont Club: “Because we read Olmsted, we knew him, if ever so slightly. He was unique, as all of us are unique. There will never, in the wide spaces of time, ever be another Andrew Olmsted.”
- America’s North Shore Journal: “He was as expert an observer as there is concerning the War on Terror… We mourn his loss.”
- Michael Totten: “I didn’t know Andrew personally, but I was familiar with his writing, and I feel like a hole has been punched into the world.” (Via The Belmont Club.)