For Major Andy Olmsted, it was sooner - much too sooner. As a solider serving in Iraq, he understood, better than most, the ephemeral nature of life and had the presence of mind to entrust a final blog post to a good friend in the event of his untimely death.
On January 4th, 2008, MAJ Andy Olmsted's team was ambushed, and he was KIA in Iraq. As my only sibling is an officer in the U.S. Navy, I've thought hard about the harsh price that war extracts from the youngest and brightest of our citizenry.
The following are excerpts from MAJ Olmsted's final words/post:
What I don't want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I'm dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren't going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I've enjoyed in my life. So if you're up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw 'Freedom Isn't Free' from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can't laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I'm dead, but if you're reading this, you're not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.
I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.
On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.
I wasn't the greatest husband. I could have done so much more, a realization that, as it so often does, comes too late to matter. But I cherished every day I was married to Amanda. When everything else in my life seemed dark, she was always there to light the darkness. It is difficult to imagine my life being worth living without her having been in it. I hope and pray that she goes on without me and enjoys her life as much as she deserves. I can think of no one more deserving of happiness than her.
"I will see you again, in the place where no shadows fall."
Ambassador Delenn, Babylon 5
I don't know if there is an afterlife; I tend to doubt it, to be perfectly honest. But if there is any way possible, Amanda, then I will live up to Delenn's words, somehow, some way. I love you.
Andy, 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 to Valhallah on swift wings, and may your love carry Amanda through these dark moments of her loss.