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, November 19, 2006

Staci spoke with Nick

Staci spoke with Nick today and he is OK. This was first contact in around nine days. He said he was really tired because he had been up all night helping to fix the Humvee before they had to go out on another mission. He said that they are staying very busy with missions, some of them are going to be lasting ten days at a time. He is hoping to call again in the next few days before he leaves again.

I don't have details, but I understand he was nearby when a mortar hit on their base - but he is fine. They found the two men that fired the mortar and they apparently worked at the power plant. I also heard that their Humvee was overturned on a mission recently and it took them a while to get it out of the mud - no other details on it. He mentioned that communications were shut down for a while because somthing happened, but now they are back up.

I hear that morale is not too great right now, so if everyone would send a small something for Christmas, that could help.

I hear that he will be moving to the Conex units (transformed cargo containers) in the near future, which will give him more space. (see picture here)

There is a change in the mailing address. If you send something to the old address, he will still get it, but they are asking that we begin using this new address:

PFC Nicholas Schriefer
A Company, 1-501
APO AE 09312-0576

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembering Our Heros on Veteran's Day

Our thoughts and prayers are with our family, their brothers in arms and all those who serve.

If you can spare a moment, here are a few videos that have been compiled by other soldiers.

And a special video from Spc. Alan Burgess (I did not know this soldier, but I was moved by his pictures and video)
During the deployment of the 2/197th FA MP's to Mosul, Iraq, unit members took time out from their daily patrols to play with, aid, and make friends with the local children. Most of the videos and pictures were taken by Spc. Alan Burgess who was killed by a car bomb on October 15, 2004.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nick's back at the FOB

Spoke with Nick last night and he is fine. He is back from the mission he went out on last Friday. At the moment, he won't say what all happend, but did say that there was plenty of action. I did read this article this morning though, and this city is very nearby: http://www.blackanthem.com/News/military200610_1965.shtml

Nick's camera got broken as well. He said that it was pretty amazing that the camera survived all the action of the last week, but got broke while it was in his pocket and he slept on it. So, I'm going to be buying him a new camera, this time the ruggedized model so it can hold up to Iraq abuse - and more importantly, Nick abuse!

He said that its been raining a lot there and its getting cold at night. He now has a Surefire flashlight and he said it is REALLY bright and will light up an entire room. (for anyone interested, it is the
C2 Centurion)

He did tell me a story of how brave (I would say stupid) many of the Iraqi boys are - they don't seem to be afraid of the GIs at all. He said that one of the boys almost got killed because he snuck up on Nick's buddy who was manning the turret on the Humvee. The boy threw a firecracker next to the GI and when it went off, the GI swung around ready to shoot him with the 50 Cal. I think the kid was pretty lucky.

Nick said he got to take a hot shower when he got back - first bath since Friday - it felt really good.

He mentioned that many of the young Iraqi boys working in the markets speak good English.

All for now.

Nick's Address

Here is Nick's address. However, I spoke with him last night and he said that they currently don't have a mail guy - so they don't know how long mail will take at the moment. he also stressed that they don't have very much personal space, so for the moment he asked that everyone only send small amounts of stuff.

A Company, 1-501
FOB Iskan
APO, AE 09312-0506

No alcohol (including mouthwash, Jack Daniels, Rock n Rye, etc).

Any fresh baked or homemade foods should be vacuum sealed and will take ten travel days to arrive.

All mail should be sent via US Postal. FedEx, UPS, etc. are not allowed. Postage for APO mail only needs to cover deliver to the APO point - somewhere on the US Eastern coast. From there, the USPS and military handle the delivery. Read more about shipping to APOs and specifics regarding Christmas shipping here.

Here are some quick notes:
  • Cards and letters can just be sent regular mail with no extra postage and no special forms.
  • Packages need to have PS Form 2976-A customs form attatched (see picture right)
  • Packages must be handed in at the post office in person.
  • It is recommended that packages be sent Priority Mail.
  • Paying extra for tracking numbers will only support tracking up to the East coast and not the remaining trip overseas.
  • Express Mail is not supported for Nick's location
  • For Christmas letters and packages, Priority Mail must be shipped by 4-Dec at the latest
Free Priority Mail boxes and forms can be picked up at your local post office, or you can order a large selection of them for free here. Here are some items you might want to order and have on hand:
  • Priority Mail Box Flat Rate Box-O-FRB2 (Any weight, $8.10 postage) Great for over 4 lbs
  • Priority Mail Box Flat Rate Box-O-FRB1 (Any weight, $8.10 postage) Great for over 4 lbs
  • Priority Mail Envelope (MILI-PAC)
  • Priority Mail Address Label
  • Priority Mail Sticker (12 X 2) Great for securing boxes
  • Priority Mail Sticker (440 Sticker Roll) Great for securing boxes
  • Customs Declaration and Dispatch Note (FORM 2976-A)
  • Customs Form Envelope 2976E
There are also a large range of shapes and sizes for other Priority Mail boxes - all free. The Flat Rate boxes are great for shipping heavy stuff (if it can fit), because it costs $8.10 - no matter what. This will save you money if your package is over 4 lbs.

The USPS also has a Military Care Kit, or “Mili-kit” to make it easier for military families and friends to send care packages to their loved ones stationed overseas. Each kit contains two Priority Mail boxes, six Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, eight Priority Mail labels, one roll of Priority Mail tape and eight customs forms with envelopes. This kit may be ordered by calling the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734 and requesting a Military Care Kit. There is no charge for the kit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reminder: Pictures of Nick in Iraq

Just a reminder - I am keeping an online album of pictures I receive while Nick is deployed. You can view them here on Snapfish.com and order any prints you like. As I receive more, I will add them.

Stories from Nick

I spoke with Nick this past Friday (3-Nov), sorry just now getting it posted. Nick is doing fine.
Here's another picture of Nick and his squad - of course there always has to be one of them with thier finger up - they can't help themselves.

In the early morning Friday, before Sunrise, a small fire started outside the FOB - they think it was unintentional. Pretty soon a palm tree caught fire and he said it was like a fireball. They were trying to look around the area with their NODS to see if there were any people around, but the fire was too intense and all they saw was white. The locals kept saying that the fire department was coming, but they never showed up - so it just burned. When I spoke with him, it was 10:30PM in Iskan and he said the fire was still smoldering. I guess that was the excitement of the day - at least what he would share. He did say that their base is under attack quite a bit, but he sluffed it off saying "they learn to ignore it".

He also told me about a guy in a row boat (homemade) paddling on the
Euphrates river. The guy was having trouble because he was paddling upstream and the current was pulling him East, towards the FOB. They have orders to shoot anyone reaching the halfway point, so they kept yelling at the guy telling him to go back. He said the guy was paddling and struggling, but just couldn't overcome the current - so finally the guy jumped off the boat and swam back to the Western shore, letting his boat drift on.

Staci sent me a couple pictures that Nick took. One picture is of a bomb that exploaded during one of their missions. He said that the bomb exploded before their convoy got there. The Iraqi military discovered it and apparently detonated it unintentionally. Nick said that they tend to find what they think might be bombs and then they poke at them with sticks to see if they are real (insert your own comments here). He said when his convoy passed, he saw the soldiers getting up from the ground, dazed and walking around it.

Nick said there are dogs everywhere. When they go out on missions, he said that dogs will begin to cluster together and follow the patrol around, barking at them. This is especially dangerous at night. One of the guys was almost attacked recently.
Nick said today was the first day they had hot water since he's been there - and his first bath in 4 days. He said it felt soooo good to take a hot shower.

Nick will be out of contact for the next week or so. They've implemented nighttime curfews in the area - maybe having to do with the Saddam trial, but I don't know. Nick also said that he got my letter, so the address is good. He said they now have a guy handling mail, so a bunch of guys finally got stuff. I will post his address and instructions in a seperate entry.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Story from another Alaska Soldier

I found this story from another Fort Richardson soldier named Kevin who is at FOB Iskan. I don't know if Nick knows him or not, but the story provides a small glimpse of the life.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Here's a Pic of Nick

In the past few days, Nick has IM'd and spoken with Staci, and IM'd with me. He is using the rental computers at their communications room and apparently they have many problems. Nick is doing fine and he has sent us a picture. He says that the FOB he's at "is a shit, hole trash grows on trees and from the grass in this place". I'm thinking this is mold or something, because from what I've read, there are all kinds of hazardous waste and sewage around. I asked him if there was a lot of activity there and he said "yea this place is pretty happenin".

I read an article this week from a Texas newspaper who interviewed a soldier just returning from FOB Iskan. In the article, the soldier said, "We had heavy fighting pretty much every day." He said that in his duties, "they run combat operations, man missiles and conduct raids on suspected terrorist sites." I don't know exactly what Nick is doing though, and While this article doesn't say that the soldier was based at FOB Iskan, it does say he was based in Iskandariyah which I think is the same location. The story is available at http://thefacts.com/story.lasso?ewcd=f4f2b6ba9b36c32c