Olmsted was determined to make a difference in Iraq. "The sooner the Iraqi government doesn't need U.S. support to provide security for its people, the sooner we will probably be asked to leave."
Every day I'm on the FOB, I walk into the squadron headquarters building to check in. That was was easier in recent weeks, because the pictures were gone. For the first few months we were here, every time I walked into the building I had to walk by the memorial to all the soldiers from the squadron who had died during the deployment. It was impossible to walk by and not notice them. Brave young men who died long before they should have, far from home. When that squadron rotated out of our FOB, though we had a very good working relationship, I did not miss seeing that wall every day.
Better yet, for the first four months we were here, not a single soldier affiliated with our FOB was killed, and few were even wounded. Things were still dangerous, but luck was with us. That luck ran out last week.
A convoy heading back from a mission took a hit and lost a man last week. They evacuated him very quickly, but the damage was too severe, and he died of his wounds within a few hours. The squadron continued to operate, of course, but they also prepared for their first memorial service. It was hard.
Several soldiers and the soldier's commander spoke of the deceased. Naturally, one expects nothing but good things to be said at a memorial service, but these soldiers made it pretty clear that they had lost a dear friend. He had done quite a bit in a short career in the Army; this was his second trip to Iraq already. He had been planning to go on to college soon, and hopefully, to get married. His whole life was arrayed ahead of him. Now all that remains is the memories of his friends and family.
After the remembrances and a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace, the ceremony closed with the salute to the deceased. In small groups, all of us came up to the display commemorating the fallen, took a moment to gaze down at the dog tags, the helmet, the empty boots, and then we came to attention and saluted our fallen comrade. There was no time period allotted; one could stay as long or as short a time as one wished. I had never met the soldier, but I found it very difficult to keep my eyes clear as I saluted a good man who had so much more to offer the world.
We are in a dangerous business. Soldiers die in war; there's no way around it. But that knowledge does not make those losses any less bitter.
May his soul rest in God's peace and may his family find comfort in their faith. Keep safe. Love, MumPosted by Mum W on November 18, 2007 11:47 AM
You speak for all of us by writing of your pain at the loss of your colleague. I hope his family gets a chance to see this column.
At West Point they speak of being a part of a long gray line. This is a reminder to the cadets of the honorable sacrifice of those who have come before. You and your comrades are an integral part of that line.
We at home can not do enough to thank you for your sacrifice at this most difficult time.Posted by wes on November 19, 2007 07:05 AM
My heart and my prayers are going out to all of you during this difficult time. I know that God is with that young man, his family, and you-his comrades; Loving each of you, and helping you all to move forward, Protected and Loved on your paths.Posted by W. Clark on November 19, 2007 02:05 PM
Want to wish you and your team a Happy Thanksgiving. Today and everyday we give thanks for your sacrifice of being away from family and friends so that we can enjoy the freedom to celebrate the holidays. Thank you and may GOD bless and keep you safe.
G & J Beaver
Many prayers for each and every team member in your area for only God knows the plans he has for each of you. Although we may only be here for a short time, we all will touch a life that we may never know existed. You and your men are touching the lives of many people who will benefit from the triumphs you set forth today.
Keep pressing forward and God will see you thru-he always does. The Jackson's in OhioPosted by The Jacksons on November 25, 2007 04:56 PM
To the Olmsted family; May God help to heal your heart in his time. Thank You Andy for all you did for our freedom and the people of Iraq. Amanda; I don't know what it is like to loose a spouse. However, I do know that God can heal a broken herat when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. When everything is over and times are quiet, may you find it in your heart to turn to God and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus paid just like Andy did. Love a Cousin in MainePosted by rhonda (olmsted) Kinney on January 6, 2008 03:12 PM