MANCHESTER, NH, US
CPL, CO A, 3D BN, 509TH INF, FORT RICHARDSON, AK
01/20/2007, KARMAH, IRAQ
SPC Toby Richard Olsen was raised and lived in various places around the world. He was the son of an Army officer which made moving a mandatory part of his growing up. Much of SPC Olsen’s youth was spent in Hawaii.
Toby graduated from Mililani High School in Hawaii, class of 1997. Toby had a keen interest in art, and played in the school marching band. He pursued his interest in art attending Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2003. Toby next enlisted in the US Army in June 2004.
An uncle, Robert Olsen of Mililani, Hawaii, explained that Toby moved to Hawaii around 1991.”Hawaii was his home.”
“He was artistic, so gifted in drawing,” added uncle Larry Beil. “The guy could draw like you wouldn’t believe. He wanted to fulfill his military duty and become an art teacher.”
While visiting his parents in Germany during Christmas leave and before returning to Iraq, Toby wrote down some of his thoughts:
“I am an artist, I strive to create and enjoy almost nothing more than to sit having all the time and freedom in the world and create,” SPC. Olsen explained. “I hit a point in life though, where my art wasn’t fulfilling anymore, it felt empty.”
With a feeling that he had too much freedom, Toby wrote about joining the Army. “Now my time is run by the minute, there is almost no room for creativity. I now conform to ideas instead of imagine, and destroy instead of create,” he wrote. “The contrast thus far has led to a strong resurgence of my former drives and desire to create as well as a newfound level of respect for the freedoms I once had.
“Hope I live long enough to enjoy them again.”