Updated 18-Sep: Welcome to the Schriefer Blog, my name is Tavis Schriefer. Recently, my wife Jill and I raised money to supply driFIRE shirts to every soldier in Apache Company of the 1-501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. We were successful in raising over $6500 and we would like to thank everyone for all their support to make this happen.
Please read our entire message here...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Nick and the North Pole

Haven't heard from Nick, but he is supposed to be out on his 7-day field training, living in the woods in Georgia. As it turns out, this is the same area that we saw quite a bit of coverage on CNN yesterday - fully covered in a huge ice storm. As I recall from Jon's training, they have to dig their own fox hole and sleep in it with all their gear. When Jon went through this, it was raining and really muddy. Nick was unhappy because the forecast looked like rain - so I bet he's REALLY hating life about now.

1st Care Package Shipping

Now that Jon has a mailing address, I'm sending off the 1st care package tomorrow. I will also begin putting together items with the goal of sending the next package in about a week. I want to get this one off even if it won't have a lot in it, because it will have his field jacket. He sent me an email the same day he posted the blog and said that food is OK (he mentioned his Grandmother's fudge specifically). He also asked for some DVDs of movies or TV shows. I've been making some DVDs lately of shows from TV, etc. and will be including some with the package.

I got up at 6AM this fine Sunday morning planning on making updates to the IDEATIVE website, but instead have been sitting here, enjoying my coffee and reading other blogs and online news sites from around the world. It came to me that Jonathan loved Starbucks so much, I thought I would get some coffee from there and include in his package as well.

One thing I read on a London newspaper (on-line) this morning - its really sticking in my head - is that a columnist referred to the fastest growing generation of web surfers (over 65) and termed them "Silver Surfers" - I thought that was pretty funny. I thought I would throw that out, in case my parents are reading ;)

Off and on, I read several blogs from soldiers in Iraq. They provide a perspective of how things are and how different soldiers feel about what they are going through. Here are the blogs I've been looking at so far:

Sgt Steven Kiel's blog, http://stevenkiel.blogspot.com/
American Soldier, http://www.soldierlife.com/
A Line In The Sand, http://missick.blogs.com/warblog/

One Item I would like to point out is on Steven Kiel's blog titled "Iraqi Elections" (January 25). The comments are interesting as well.

Below is a list of care package ideas from Steven Kiel's blog. This isn't necessarily what Jonathan would want, just some feedback from other soldiers. Some of the items I personally don't think Jonathan would want - at least not yet, but I didn't edit the list below. Jon, let us know what kind of stuff you would like and we'll take care of it.

On Steven's blog, he said, "I know many of you have asked about care packages and what kind of things we need. I’ve come up with a list, which is surely not exclusive. Out of the ordinary things are always kind of nice too, so don’t limit yourself to these things if you’re thinking of sending something. If possible, try to get things in sealable containers so the bugs won’t get into them. Just have fun looking for things and the package will be good. I intend to share this with my platoon, so don’t restrict yourself to things that you think just I would like."


  • Granola bars
  • Power Bars
  • Protein powder
  • Candy - please no Skittles though, they put those in some of our MRE’s and we’re all kind of sick of them.
  • Gourmet coffee
  • Beef Jerky/Slim Jim’s
  • Trail Mix
  • Peanuts
  • Chips- like Pringles
  • Gum- sugar free preferably, so my teeth don’t rot out.
  • Microwaveable popcorn


  • Toilet seat covers
  • Mach 3 razors
  • Mouthwash
  • Baby wipes
  • Vitamins
  • Floss
  • Foot powder
  • Those poofy things for liquid soap (yeah, I don’t know what they’re called)
  • Deodorant
  • Eye drops
  • Cough medicine, Aleve, Nyquil


  • Magazines – National Review, Weekly Standard anyone?
  • Books
  • DVD’s
  • CD’s


  • Little flashlights
  • Stationary
  • Pens
  • Air fresheners
  • I think Citronella candles would be good to get rid of the bugs when it gets warmer out, but I don’t know if it’s possible to mail those
  • Tupperware
  • Plastic forks and knives
  • Coffee cups
  • Dish soap
  • Sponges

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Who's your Baghdaddy??

Well, we're in Baghdad now (have been for about 5 days, but dad hasn't answered my email to his msn account so i just sent one to his Ideative account and Yahoo) This place is beautiful (on our camp) there are four or five palaces on the two camps that i have access to, which when i can i will post some more pics (my camera is definately destroyed - i took it apart to try to get the sand out and it wont work anymore) we didn't get attacked when we landed and there was no way anyone could have gotten to us anyways... So far I've met a bunch of Iraqi children from up in the towers that we work in - they are all fairly nice. Outside of our camp looks a lot like Tijuana, Mexico (according to our Platoon Leader) and mostly the Iraqi people like us. The elections are starting tomorrow so we won't have any contact with the outside world for a while (about 3 or 4 days maybe a little longer depending on what happens). My mailing address is :
PV2 Schriefer, Jonathan L.
B co. 111th EN BN WPMUB0 <--(that's a zero)
APO AE 09342-1400

apparently you only have to pay for postage to New York.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pvt Nick Update

Heard from Nick yesterday. All good - been doing details (and hates that). They are leaving on their 7-day "camping" trip with a 13 mile Airborne Shuffle (slow jog) to their urban warfare area. After that, he's been told that this will be the conclusion of their training and the remaining time will be spent cleaning their gear and preparing for graduation. He said that spending a week cleaning gear will be the worst part of the entire time at boot camp.

He said he has mailed another letter, but I haven't received it yet.

I found three more pictures of Nick on the soldierschapel website that were taken at church service on Jan. 16 - click on the thumnails below to go to the actual pictures.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Letter from Nicholas (2005-01-17)

Received a letter from Nicholas yesterday. I had spoken to him on the phone between the time he wrote this and the time I received his letter.

I tried to put it on the Blog, but had trouble getting anything other than a picture file out there, so resorted to email. If you didn't get a copy and want to see it, send me an email to tavis_schriefer@yahoo.com


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Phone calls from Jonathan

Jonathan called yesterday around 4:30 AM and we talked for almost an hour. He is all packed up and ready to go - they will be leaving very soon to Iraq.

He had a sinus infection a couple days ago trying to get used to the dry climate. He said he was having to run from one CARE package to another, checking contents and it gets hard to catch your breath. He said they drink plenty of water and that there are pallets of bottled water everywhere. They gave him a couple shots and he slept for quite a while - he's better now.

There was some concern over the ballistic goggles he has - they are not prescription lenses and they are of a type that cannot be on your face along with your glasses. I spent some time with the manufacturer discussing his prescription and the goggles he has vs. What he can/should have - then discussed it with Jon when he called again yesterday afternoon. The goggles issued by the military cannot handle his level of prescription, so I'm going to get him new ones here in the States ($220) and ship to him in a few weeks when he has a shipping address. In the meantime, he is using the older, larger goggles that go on over your glasses and are attached to his helmet (these can be seen in many of the pictures of guys who have been over there for a long while)

He hasn't been able to take any more pictures as his new camera's lens cover doesn't want to open - don't know if its sand or some other problem. His computer still works fine, but does make some noise (from the fan) when you first power it on (likely sand).

He has now used all of his phone cards (it died while we were on the phone). He had a WalMart card from Xmas and a AAFES 550 card that was given to them at the departure ceremony in Waco. He bought some other calling card at the shop he was at, from a Kuwaiti shopkeeper, but had to go find someone with an old $20 bill because his was a new one with colors on it and the shopkeeper thought it was counterfeit. I plan to get him another card from AAFES.com in the next couple weeks and have it delivered to the house. We've determined that he doesn't have to have the physical card, just the numbers on the card - so I can email him the info.

They will be shipping out very soon, so that was the last contact we will have for next few weeks, until they arrive at their new base. Without going into specifics, he said they will be at a very large base with around 10K troops. He is on the first flight out and they have been informed to expect a firefight from the time they land until their convoy arrives at the base.

He is doing well and ready to go. They have plenty of ammo and he is wearing all of his safety gear, so we will hear from him again in a couple weeks. -Tavis

Monday, January 17, 2005

News from the boys

Instant Messaged with Jon today and spoke with Nick. Jon said they are shipping out soon to Iraq. His mission has changed but no details. He said he would try and call me on the phone in the next 24 hours.

Nick called and said they had their PT final - he passed with no problems. They are packing their ruck sacks for a 10 mile ruck march then going to have urban assault training for next few days. After that they will have a 12-14 mile ruck march.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Christmas Pictures Online

It took me forever, but I finally have our Christmas 2004 pictures online at Snapfish.com.

View Pictures

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Nick plays Laser Tag

Heard from Nick yesterday. They "played Army" with the laser vests and guns - he said it was pretty fun. Next they are going to be doing the army crawl through the mud with the barbwire above and the machine guns firing overhead. All and all, he seems to be having fun and actually enjoying it - I guess like I would like to be relaxing on a cruise ship. Yep, he's strange.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Here's me and my friend Tucker at Ft. Hood the night we were leaving Posted by Hello

Here's a couple of my friends - Ross on the left, Villani on the right Posted by Hello

This is my First Sergeant on the plane overseas...The crew talked both the 1st Sgt.s into dressing like this and giving us hot towels and dinner(our second dinner) Posted by Hello

this is what's outside of the base Posted by Hello

Jon with a SAW in Kuwait Jan. 2005 Posted by Hello

Pics from Kuwait

Hey everyone, I've got some pics (pictures) that I have taken since leaving the States that I'm sure y'all wanna see... It's not too bad out here on this beach, but I'm still trying to find the water that my travel agent told me is here. I'm thinking I'm gonna have to sue that agent when I get back home. Well, hope you all enjoy them!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Found Waldo (Nick) in some pictures

Tonight I went through the pictures I mentioned earlier (Jan 7) on SoldiersChapel and found Nick in the following pictures:

photo #23
photo #40 and photo #41
photo #44

DefendAmerica News - Texas Guard Soldiers Prepare to Deploy

I found this article on the DOD website about the recent deployment of the Texas National Guard.
DefendAmerica News - Texas Guard Soldiers Prepare to Deploy

There are also more photos by clicking on the link under the main photo "More Photos", including some of the 111th Engineer Battalion.

IM'd with Jon today

Jon and I IM'd today on Yahoo Messenger.
  • He is doing fine and said its cold and rainy there.
  • He has been exchanging emails with a friend of his that is in Mosul.
  • He is getting email, but his connection is very slow so we probably shouldn't send enclosures of any significant size.
  • He has seen this Blog and left a comment to one of the messages (ref: Military Exchange Prepaid Calling Cards)
  • He says the food is good and they are allowed to bring sodas and juices back to their tent.
  • He has been taking pictures and will try to send some when he can.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Pictures of Nick's Company in Basic Training

These are pictures of Foxtrot Company at Boot Camp, currently ranging in time from 5 Nov - 6 Dec.

Its like a "Where's Waldo" trying to find him, but in pictures with combat helmets, he is #447. He's also in photo 41 on Nov 28. Anyone spotting him in others, please provide photo number in the comments.

Webshots - Images of 1-19 F Company

Nick Graduation Info

I just spoke with Foxtrot Company' training office (Nick's Company). Their graduation is on Friday, 11 February at 10:00AM. After graduation, he will be released to his Airborne Training unit where he will likely get a weekend pass as they do not train on weekends. Fort Benning, GA is 830 miles from Dallas (Fort Leonard Wood was 562 miles)


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Military Exchange Prepaid Calling Cards

This is the link to the AAFES calling card. The 500 minute WalMart card @ $30 gives 50 minutes of talk time from Middle East ($0.60/min), where the AAFES cards have a much better per minute rate.

Not yet sure if you have to really mail the physical card to Jon or if there are card numbers and pins that can be emailed instead... looking into it.

Military Exchange Prepaid Calling Cards

Spoke with Jon this morning

Jonathan just called and we talked for about 30 minutes. He is in Kuwait and arrived sometime within the last 24 hours. They are 9 hours ahead and he says the weather there is about 70F during the day, but gets cold at night. He said there is sand everywhere (big surprise) so they have to keep their stuff put away when not using to try and keep clean. He called using the WalMart calling card he got for Xmas (500 minute card gives him 50 minutes from Kuwait).

They flew there on an American Airlines 777 out of Fort Hood, landed in Germany for refueling (and smoke break on the flight line), then on to Kuwait. The AA crew was all volunteer. The crew persuaded the Sgts to dress up like women (wigs and all) and serve the troops dinner on the flight. Jon said he got some pictures and will send.

He has no idea how long he will be in Kuwait. They will not get a mailing address until they go to Iraq, so only way to contact him is via email (
jon_schriefer@hotmail.com) or Yahoo Instant messenger (got_bawls). Everyone might send him a quick email with your contact info, just to make sure he has it.

He said that it appears they have free internet access at the CyberCafe if they use their own computers (he has a laptop) or they can pay to use the computers provided, which have web cams. He said that it seemed that the internet speed was not real fast, so we may want to hold off on sending pictures via email.

He has a digital camera as well and is taking some pictures. I suggested to him that he start a Snapfish account (
www.snapfish.com) and upload them there instead of emailing to all of us (would be faster for him). This will allow all of us to see the pictures, print, email and order prints if we want. We can do the same for any pictures we would like to provide to him, allowing him to save download times by not having large email attatchments.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Spoke with Nick tonight

Nick called tonight from his cell phone he smuggled back to basic training after Xmas holiday. I asked him if he was hiding in a closet or footlocker - he said he was hiding in the corner, but to get a signal he was hanging his head outside the window overlooking the Drill Sergeant's parking lot (yep, he's stealthy). He sent me a SMS message to my phone a couple days ago saying he was already homesick. He now says that things are better and he's getting back in the swing of things. He also snuck one of Jon's cold weather undershirts and was wearing it the other day - everyone there was saying "that's nice, where did you get it". We spoke for about 10 minutes before he had to go (someone was coming). He asked for letters to start coming again, so here is his address in case anyone doesn't have it...

Pvt Nicholas Schriefer
FCO 1st BN, 19 INF
9075 Holcomb Dr.
Ft. Benning, GA 31905

Remember to blacken the three corners like this:


My next technology baby step

OK, here it goes. I've heard and read about them for years, but never tried it myself. I have now created by first blog. I must really be getting old since it took me so long to do this, but decided this would be the best way to relay communications from Jon and Nick to everyone. -tavis

ps - call me anal, but I just spellchecked this and "blog" wasn't found in the blog application's spelling dictionary - hmmm...