Michael's Dispatches

Great Britain Loses one of its Finest


Olaf in Combat.

03 November 2009

British soldiers at war are an incredible group.  Courageous, competent, and committed in very difficult conditions.  An email came today from London, from a BBC correspondent who has been to Afghanistan saying that Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid had been killed.

Olaf and his crew already destroyed many bombs just this single August morning in Sangin.

To see the article in the BBC was deeply saddening: Soldier Killed While Defusing 65th Bomb.

On a side note, the British soldiers are conservative.  Though this is not very important, it’s difficult to imagine that Olaf had only destroyed 64 bombs before being killed.  Just on this single mission, during which all these photos were taken, and during the surrounding few days, his crew must have destroyed several dozen bombs.  You had to be there.  By the time the mission in these photos happened, the crew was very experienced.

Olaf walking back from the latest bomb of many that day.

The day was blazing hot but these explosives specialists must concentrate.

Just now, the team is clearing a British vehicle that was blown up and now booby trapped.

Hundreds of soldiers are being killed each year with bombs, and these men go into the thick of it.

Courage is as common as boots among these soldiers, but Olaf stood out even in that company.  You could tell that Olaf knew his business from mean experience, and that he was ready for battle.  His mind was very quick.

His crew was competent and confident, and worked faster to clear bombs than any I had seen.  If not, the soldiers could never have completed this mission, because there simply were too many bombs.  They say all beekeepers get stung, but these are not bees.  These soldiers were facing an extraordinary number of bombs and booby-traps that are designed to kill the team.

Another bomb destroyed.

According to the Oxford Mail,

“During the course of his tour, he attended 41 tasks, rendered safe 64 IEDs and attended 11 finds of bomb-making equipment.”

The married father-of-one lived with his family in Winchester. His wife Christina said: “Oz was a phenomenal husband and loving father who was cruelly murdered on his last day of a relentless five-month tour."

Olaf was lost on his last mission.  The enemy are blowing up civilians everywhere, and taking a toll on our folks.

Lt Col Rob Thomson, commander of 2 Rifles, consults will Olaf before destroying the next bombs.

According to the BBC:

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thomson, commanding officer of 2 Rifles Battle Group, said: "Staff Sgt Oz Schmid was simply the bravest and most courageous man I have ever met."

"No matter how difficult or lethal the task which lay in front of us, he was the man who only saw solutions."

"He saved lives in 2 Rifles time after time and for that he will retain a very special place in every heart of every rifleman in our extraordinary battle group."

According to the Oxford Mail,

Lt Col Robert Thomson, the commanding officer of the 2 Rifles Battle Group, said: “Staff Sgt Oz Schmid was simply the bravest and most courageous man I have ever met."

“Under relentless IED and small arms attacks, he stood taller than the tallest. He opened the Pharmacy Road and 24 hours later, found 31 IEDs in one go on route Sparta. Every single company in 2 Rifles adored working with him."

They really did.  Everybody liked to see not just Olaf, but his entire great team.  The mission succeeded that day.  For more about the lives, and missions of these excellent soldiers, please read Bad Medicine.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe · 12 years ago
    Here's to another fallen comrade, may you walk with God....My deepest condolences to his family....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Alex · 12 years ago
    Rest in peace Oz. A true hero. Very sad story.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Genung · 12 years ago
    May his memory be eternal. Condolences to his family & friends.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Leba Hirsch · 12 years ago
    What an incredible Soldier! Our allies are lucky to have had him with them. May his memory be for a blessing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TD Stout · 12 years ago
    Thanks for honoring this brave soldier with your words and photos. We will miss him and his courage in fighting terrorism. His family will miss him in ways we cannot. Hopefully they will have some solace in knowing he served his country and gave all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    howarde12 · 12 years ago
    You would think that the Arab world would condemn these bombs (IEDs) because of the numbers of innocent civilians killed, the complete disregard for the civiilians who are trying to live normal lives. Their government is not at war. Allow them to live in peace. All Islamists should be angry at this loss of life among their co-religionists. If Islam is a religion of peace, why are they not condemning Al Queda?

    My sympathies to the family of Staff Sgr Oz Schmid, as well as his fellow soliders.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    A&N · 12 years ago
    Thank you SSGT Ollaf Schmid. Our hearts are humbled by you and our words can never be enough.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barry Sheridan. Hamp · 12 years ago
    My deepest sympathy goes out to his widow and family of S/S Schmid and of course to all those who knew him enough to be directly affected by the loss. Words are meagre tools for this purpose, but there is no other way. It saddens, as it does when anyone from this old land falls in foreign fields on behalf of the nation. It remains a sacrifice that can only be worth it by winning.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Darren Stewart · 12 years ago
    Such heroism must be rewarded, and must not be forgotten. This man deserves a VC.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stuart Sage · 12 years ago
    A very, very brave man. Deepest respect & sympathy to his family.

    "With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
    England mourns for her dead across the sea.
    Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
    Fallen in the cause of the free.

    Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
    Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
    There is a music in the midst of desolation
    And a glory that shines upon our tears.

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
    Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered:
    They fell with their faces to the foe.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

    They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
    They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
    They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
    They sleep beyond England's foam.

    But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
    Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
    To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
    As the stars are known to the Night;

    As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
    Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
    As the stars are starry in the time of our darkness,
    To the end, to the end they remain."
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jean,Fl · 12 years ago
    He is in the FATHERS arms and GOD I know is saying to him WELL DONE MY GOOD AND FAITHFULL SERVANT.My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the rest of his team.I thank you S/S Schmid may you rest peacefully.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ken VT · 12 years ago
    From having served there are certain people who you want that special Angel looking out for them. The lives and tears this brave soldier spared will only be known to the men whom He served with. May He be in the land of rainbows and where you have the smell of flowers and rain everyday. GOD bless Him and His family
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Diane Shearer · 12 years ago
    May your deeds be remembered, your name honored, your family blessed, as the Father welcomes you with open arms. Thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and the lives you saved. God be with your team and your family as they grieve, in Jesus' name, Amen.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Danger Girl · 12 years ago
    May Angels Sing Thee To Thy Rest, Sweet Prince. God bless our coalition partners who, like the brave men and women of the US military, serve with honor, dignity, and courage.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Doc · 12 years ago
    Last mission!
    Free men thank you for your courageous sacrifice.
    No words can salve the loss to family and friends.
    May God Hold them and extend Mercy in their times of need.
    Thank you Staff Sgt Oz Schmid
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank · 12 years ago
    I have the highest respect for our British Allies! We have always been able to count on them over the years.
    Our prayers will continue for this fine warrior's family and fellow soldiers.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mofak · 12 years ago
    Rest in Peace Brave Warrior, Schmid!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scarface · 12 years ago
    It is with a heavy heart that we say a final farewell to Staff SGT Oz. Our condolences to his family for having made such a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. God Bless. Gone but never forgotten
    Semper Fidelis
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Darren · 12 years ago
    Stubborn Ounces

    You say the Little efforts that I make
    will do no good: they never will prevail
    to tip the hovering scale
    where Justice hangs in balance.

    I don’t think I ever thought they would.
    But I am prejudiced beyond debate
    in favor of my right to choose which side
    shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.

    - Bonaro W. Overstreet
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Alex · 12 years ago
    Channel 4 News report including interview with Staff Seargent Olaf Schmid: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1184614595?bctid=4760412 001
    To save one life is as if you have saved the world and God knows how many lives, both colleagues and Afghans, he saved. RIP
  • This commment is unpublished.
    US Coastie · 12 years ago
    Thank you, Oz and family, for your service to liberty. My family and I pray for God's blessings upon you all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tom · 12 years ago
    I hope the people in this mans life will know of the appreciation by a great number of Americans. God Bless and God Speed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Patricia Longacre O · 12 years ago
    My prayers go out to Oz's family, esp. wife and child. He is truly a hero who gave his life so that others were safe. It is hard to get one's mind around his los,s and the loss of other brave soldiers, but I believe he has made the future safer for all of us.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    KenF · 12 years ago
    A sincere heartfelt thank you to Great Britton, Oz’s grieving widow and child for giving one of their best. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers, with the deepest gratitude.
    Mr. Obama, take heed...we need more troops in the field to help keep the roads clear of IEDs. How long is it going to take for you to realize, you are putting all of these troops lives at risk? Not only that; many Afghani civilians are being killed by these bombs as well. We can turn this around, but you need to get on the stick and SEND THE TROOPS GEN MCCHRYSTAL REQUESTED NOW!

    God bless,
    RVN 69-70
    4th Inf Div
  • This commment is unpublished.
    KenF · 12 years ago
    So sorry for your loss. I can tell he was your friend.

    Thanks again for all you do.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    USMC Capt · 12 years ago
    EOD are the unsung heros of modern COIN ops. When you see them in action and know they do that all day every day, that is real heroism. God Bless you SSgt.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Broaddus, Teha · 12 years ago
    As an American, I offer my deepest condolences to Staff Sergeant Schmid's family. We are grateful to have such heroic allies serving at our side. Here in the United States we mourn for your loss. May our hero rest in peace.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Charles Epperson · 12 years ago
    Godspeed Staff Sgt. You are in hands that will keep you safe as you kept others safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tim Barton · 12 years ago
    The bravery of these commited troops continues to inspire so many of us and it pains to hear when things go so very wrong. May Ssgt. Schmidt's family and friends find strength having known him. Many of us around the world who have never known other than through the stories brought to us; feel loss and sympathy for your personal pain.
    His mission was just and his service honorable.
    Thank you Sir, may you Rest in Peace.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mario Ortega, Sr · 12 years ago
    Thank you Great Britan for men such as Staff Sgt Oz Schmid. Condolences to all that knew and loved this man among men. Tho' words fail to explain why men do the evil they do, we are blessed that there are those who act to counter with their good work. Think now that he is the sight of God, standing in a field of green grass by blue waters. He deserves no less, Lord.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bryan Vyce · 12 years ago
    God Bless this awesome person named Oz Schmid. Thank you Sir for keeping so many safe. You are a Hero, You are a Friend, You will be missed but never ever forgotten.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy · 12 years ago
    I am so very sorry for the loss os such men, this was an amazing human being and a great soldier, he was sent by the heavens. I am truly sorry for the loss of such fine people, I can only hope his family can will forgive us all for having placed him in harms way as he protected his comrades and fellow countrymen and women while serving the cause of Freedom globally. May this man rest in Peace and may we collectively find a way in future to live in Peace so good people like this may live and enjoy life as it should be enjoyed.

    Thank you Sir, although I did not know you, I have to salute your courage and skills - God Bless you - RIP
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jonann · 12 years ago
    I want to thank oz's family for giving such a great man to the military so he can protect our freedom. We stand united. God Bless
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley · 12 years ago
    Yet another tragic loss that could be laid at the feet of the British MOD for failing to provide sufficient helos to avoid all this unnecessary road clearing.

    And another loss foretold by the officer that died.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    fred bilbrey jr · 12 years ago
    a true hero thankyou for your service. may god go with you and your family
  • This commment is unpublished.
    anna · 12 years ago
    to have laid so costly a sacrifice at the altar of freedom...i salute his courage and am deeply grateful for his service. Oz has been swallowed by life, and his family is in my prayers for time to come...bless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gloria Hawthorne · 12 years ago
    Lord welcome into your Kingdom this awesome person named SSgt Oz Schmid. SSgt Schmid, thank you for keeping our coalition forces safe. Thank you! May you Rest In Peace.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    jeff · 12 years ago
    thanks brother
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David M · 12 years ago
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 11/0 /2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 11/0 /2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Skj · 12 years ago
    Condolences to his family. But why in the hell would we send human beings to defuse bombs, rather than just shoot a grenadesniper round/bundle of C4 at them and blow them in place (or, as the US does, send in a robot)? What is the management/leadership decision to make a human being personally defuse a discovered bomb in a wreck, or in a hole in the ground, or whatever? Frankly, I would never do it, I would never order a subordinate to do it, and I can't imagine the reason for doing it. No road, or building, or bridge, or wrecked British vehicle is so important it has to be saved by risking a human being's life this way.

    And, technically, did he really save any lives? Weren't the bombs discovered? In other words, was there really a risk to human beings when human beings knew the bombs were there and could thence avoid them?

    I can respect and honor the soldier while simultaneously question the absurdity of the policy. I hope the next SSG Olaf is replaced with a hand grenade, and SSG Olaf's brothers don't waste their lives on absurd work.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    matt h · 12 years ago
    The EOD teams are some of the bravest men on the line. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, they have taken on a very heavy burden indeed. God bless Sgt. Schmid and all of those in the profession.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    stephen rhodes · 12 years ago
    from reading all the other post on SSgt schmid,all i can say is Bravo! God is with You & your family...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Anderson · 12 years ago
    Thank you Staff Sargent for your sacrifice while defending my liberty.
    And Mrs. Schmid please accept my condolences. The world is a poorer
    place now.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Todd and Angelia Cam · 12 years ago
    We are truly sorry for your loss of your husband, your father, your family member. His courage and ultimate sacrifice will be in our hearts, burned in with the thousand of other men and woman who have given so much and expected nothing. Although we will never meet each other, we are honored to be connected in Spirit. God bless you all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Hoot · 12 years ago
    Thank you and your country for standing side by side with us!!! God will take it from here.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MAJ US ARMY · 12 years ago
    My deepest condolence to Olaf Schmid's wife and child. May our merciful and loving Lord watch and protect your wife and child while your with Him. You provided a safer place for countless men, women and children to walk on because of your service.

    For the Lord saith: This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-1
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Arlene in CA · 12 years ago
    I just read this sad story at Fox News. His wife Christine and his five year old son Laird will be appreciative, Michael, of these wonderful pictures you took of the good Sgt. The comments and poems here are so moving and beautiful. I join with the others in giving my heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends and the brave warriors who served with him.
    Thank you Michael for the tribute.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    RYAN B. · 12 years ago
    I couldn't imagine what goes through the mind of someone who difuses bombs. I thank him for his bravery and the countless lives his actions saved over there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    FranktheBank in Lees · 12 years ago
    What a guy. Some people are so courageous and it makes you wonder what you might do given the same set of circumstances.

    When it is all said and done, it is individuals like this man who protect all of us and we all better appreciate it regardless of whether or not you agree with this war or not. He believed and that is good enough for me.

    I do hope that we end this as soon as possible. One thing that bothers me the most is whether or not the Afghans, or the Iraqi's, or the Arabs and Jews really realize the sacrifice that is made by so many and is it even appreciated ?

    I don't feel it is because, in defense of these folks, it seems that it is so common place for them to see death all around them all the time, or, alot of the time it is, sadly, just another day.

    Thanks Sarge fom the Citizens of the USA
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John D · 12 years ago
    From what I've read Oz was a giant of a man who while unique in personality and character, displayed the attributes shared by the best of warriors. I'm inspired by the values he lived and died by that meant he valued his fellow soldiers, his unit and his mission above his own personal safety. This is an attitude that has been displayed by many troops from Great Britain, The United States of America and all of our coalition allies - it's a value that brings the people of these countries closer by knowing that although we are so different we are capable of raising men like this who seem to come from the same mould.

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