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.
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Friday, October 27, 2006

Spoke with Nick this morning

Spoke with Nick for a while this morning. He is now at his new home; FOB Iskan. FOB stands for Forward Operating Base. FOB Iskan is also known as Camp Iskandariyah. It took them a while to get there because of attacks - he said that insurgents were dropping mortars into their drop zone.

Nick says that the base is big, but very crude (he had a more colorful expression). He describes their living quarters is an old concrete one-story building with a long hall and concrete rooms on each side. There are nine guys in his room, all sleeping on cots, and he said its the size of his bedroom here at home. When they arrived, there was no power to the building and of course, no A/C. They have now bought several window A/C units and many power extension cables, running them from somewhere else. He said they now have 2 outlets for all 9 people and have to be careful how much stuff is running at once, so they don't overload it. This is somewhat ironic, since I've read that FOB Iskan surrounds a power plant that provides a third of all Iraq's power. He said that the building has a BIG mouse problem and with the rotted ceilings, the mice were literally falling from the rafters. They secured a bunch of trash bags to the ceiling to keep the mice from falling on to the floor. The buildings have tall concrete blast walls surrounding them and in between all walkways, to block shrapnel from mortars.

Nick said its a 30 minute walk to the chow hall, which is about the size of our upstairs. There is no PX - instead, you give a guy some money and a list, and they go to a PX to get it. However, there is an Iraqi market on the FOB and you can buy stuff from them (that's where they got the A/C units). Nick was most impressed by the massive selection of DVD movies. He said you can get a single DVD that has up to 4 full movies on it, all for about $3.

Nick says the area looks like an old Mexican town, with dilapidated concrete buildings, lots of palm trees and jungle type vegetation.

I have shipped a package to Nick to verify the address. He has been told that packages take about 10 days, but for some reason letters take 30 days. Nick asked me to wait on giving his address out, until we know for sure it is correct.

Nick is using an AT&T AAFES calling card when calling home. He is able to use other calling cards as well, but this card is rechargable. It costs $0.25/min to call home from Iraq. Staci has given me the calling card info so that I can recharge it for him. If anyone would like to donate money to his calling card, let me know. While I'm sure everyone would like to get calls from him, I hope you understand that he may have few opportunities to make calls. There is one building with 10 phones and 10 computers w/Internet for the whole FOB. Plus, he will be going on missions quite a bit, some lasting a week at a time.

I don't know when Nick will have opportunity to send any pictures to us, but in the meantime, I have found some pictures of FOB Iskan from someone else posted on YouTube.

Jon Taking On Snow

Spoke with Jon yesterday. Colorado Springs has been getting quite a bit of snow. The base was shut down because of a blizzard. Here's a picture of Phoebe in the snow.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nick in Baghdad

Spoke with Nick for a few minutes this morning. He has landed in Baghdad, but they are currently unable to continue to their FOB (Forward Operating Base). Each of the other groups going there have come under attack by machine gun and mortar rounds, so they have suspended the rest until its taken care of. He mentioned that he saw a Humvee come through the gates ridden with bullet holes down the side and burn marks from blasts and he thought, "wonder how many missions it took to look like that".

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Not in Iraq Yet...

Spoke with Nick this morning. He still hasn't left Kuwait - will be leaving anytime though. He may not go straight to his new base though. He said they may be diverted to help some other guys out on the way. More news when available.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Spoke with Nick today

I IM'd with Nick briefly early this morning, then spoke with him by phone in the afternoon. This is probably the last contact until he makes it to his new location. Nick gave me an address, but they aren't sure if its correct or not. He asked me to mail him a letter and see if he gets it, before giving it out to everyone. His computer has died, but so far he hasn't used it to access the internet - they have only been allowed to use the internet cafe and use those machines (paying a per minute charge). He has taken a couple pictures, but he said everything pretty much looks the same... sand. Plus, he hasn't figured out a way to send them successfully yet. They've been told that at some point, they should be staying in "containers" or "cans". From what I've read on the web, these are modular aluminum units with a window A/C and they have a real bed (pictured)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

IM'd and spoke with Nick this morning

IM'd with Nick early this morning. This time, he had a computer with a camera so I was able to snap a few pictures (click the pic to see them all).

He is doing fine. Got his high-and-tight haircut. He said he has heard that they may be getting their mailing address soon. He's been doing a lot of running and its pretty hot. Before he left, we signed him up for Vonage service, hoping that he could use it as an Internet phone while he was gone - but he said that so far, the internet isn't good enough to use it.

He will be leaving Kuwait and going to Iraq sometime next week - not aloud to say exactly where. Anyone wanting more specifics on this, please contact me - not going to put these type of details on the Blog. But he said its going to be a location with "lots of bunnies", implying it will be all friendly and pleasant (don't believe it). One of the jobs they will be doing will be picking up trash around the towns and spray painting over the anti-government and anti-American graffiti. They will also be paying locals to do same. The idea is to make things look better so hopefully the people will feel better too. I guess this is their "hobby" job, in between fighting insurgents.

Nick said he is currently carrying an M-4, M-16 and a M-240. Seems like a pretty heavy load to me. He especially liked his M-4 because its brand new. As for the M-16, apparently they've nicknamed it "The Musket" - guess they don't like it too much. He said that he will be walking most of the time, but when in the HMMWV (Humvee), he will be one of those riding in the turret (but they switch out). He said he recently spent some time in the new HMMWVs and that they were pretty cool (literally). They have A/C and he said it has a "Pope Dome" because the turret is incased in protective glass. He is going to try and get some pics of it for me.

That's about it for now. Click on the pic and see the various snaps I got from the IM session.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Pictures during Nick's visit in September

I finally got these pictures posted on to SnapFish. These are the pictures that were taken while Nick was here on leave, prior to shipping out to Kuwait. Pictures include:
  • A small party we had for Nick, with family and few friends
  • Dinner at Babe's with Stacy's family - We told the waitress it was Nick's Birthday, hence the chicken on the head
  • Nick showing off his new uniform

    Click on the picture to see the album

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nick in Kuwait

I spoke with Nick this morning (6AM my time, 2PM his time). He has arrived at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Kuwait. He said that he arrived in early morning and the sun was just rising - the air was dry and the perfect temp. Then the afternoon came and it was much hotter, but he said its still not too bad - sort of like at the beach, but no water. On the drive to the base, all you could see was sand in all directions, then an area with bright lights appeared - this was their destination.

Nick said the base has some of the best chow he's had, plus they have all types of restaurants there; Taco Bell, Baskin Robins, even a Panda Express type restaurant. And to top it off, the PX (Post Exchange, like a Military WalMart) had Monster Drinks -- YEA!! It sounds like he would rather be stationed in Kuwait than in Alaska ;)

After they got off the plane, they all loaded on to a nice big bus and headed through the desert to the base. They made a stop along the way for everyone to get out and stretch their legs, and get some water / Gatoraide. Nick stepped off the bus and looked around - sand everywhere - and got back on the bus to continue playing is PSP (Personal Sony PlayStation) game. The bus driver, a Kuwaiti, came up to him with a water bottle and made hand-gestures asking if he could cut the top of the bottle with a knife to make a glass. Nick pulls out his knife and waits for the bus driver to hand him the bottle. The driver wants to take the knife and do it himself. Nick said they stood there for a moment and he thought, "Oh, HELL no". So he took the bottle from the guy and cut the top off, then gave it back to the driver. Nick said, "We were the only two on the boss, don't know who the Hell this is, I'm not going to hand him my knife!".

They will be in Kuwait for 3-4 weeks doing additional training, so we will probably here from him again. He is using a calling card to call us ($0.21/min) and he can get on a computer with internet access for $5/hr. If anyone is interested in purchasing pre-paid calling cards for Nick, the cheapest I found for calling from Kuwait / Iraq is the AT&T AAFES card (https://thor.aafes.com/scs/default.aspx).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jonathan's address and pictures

Jonathan's new address at Fort Carson:

SPC Jonathan Schriefer
5901C Heurtgen Forest Rd.
Fort Carson, CO 80913

Pictures of Jonathan and Stephanie's wedding (click)


Starting back up the Blog

Well, its been a while, but now time to start the Blog back up. The last time I typed here was in January 2006 - Nick was stationed in Alaska and Jon was safely back at home, living in Irving, TX. Time seems to have gone by fast.

Jonathan has transferred from the Texas National Guard to active duty US Army, and is now stationed at Fort Carson in Colarodo Springs, CO. (http://www.carson.army.mil/). Jon is happily married to Stephanie and has a 2 year old daughter, Phoebe.

Nicholas has just been deployed to Iraq and shipped out from Alaska today. Nick is engaged to Staci McAdams and they plan to marry after he returns in about 15 months.

So, there's the 60-second update. Now its time to keep up with this thing again, so that others can stay up-to-date with the happen'ns.

For those that are new to my blog, I invite you to read through the history of the boys. I started the blog in January 2005 and followed Jon through his tour in Iraq, and Nick through his boot camp, training and first duty station in Alaska. When possible, I put links in the blog to pictures, so that if anyone wants to get copies, they can pretty easy. I invite any feedback or suggestions to make the blog better and please feel free to add your own comments to the blog entries.