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, December 16, 2007

Research info for other families

The time has come for change. The Schriefer family no longer has boys at war and it is about time to create a new blog for our closest family and firends. This blog will remain online for now at www.501stSoldierFund.com, but will not be updated after 31-Dec-2007. I wish the best to the rest of the soldiers and their families as their challenges continue on. While we don’t always agree with the situations that put our country at war, my wife and I take great pride in our soldiers who are willing to defend those decisions.

Thanks to all for the kind words during this time and all the donations during our driFire shirt effort.

I hope that some of the information on my blog was useful to others. Here are a few links that I have found useful to gain information.

  • My blog choice: www.blogger.com. Owned by Google, which also owns YouTube and Picasa, making it very easy to integrate photos and video – all free.

  • Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts/) allow you to setup search criteria and it will generate automatic emails to you with the search results. As an example, I have a search setup for Jurf As Sakhr as a “once a day” “Comprehensive” search. But I found that some news agencies also spell it as Jurf Kas Sukr, so I also setup a search for that spelling.

  • Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (http://www.dvidshub.net) is the website that the military uses to publish their video, photo and other news stories out to the agencies. It is a great source for video and you can become a member just by signing up. You can watch or download hi-res images / videos and you can search for specific phrases that pertain to your nephew’s location, unit, etc. You can even create a bookmark in Internet Explorer of the search results so that you can quickly check back for new videos.

  • The Pentagon Channel (http://www.pentagonchannel.mil) has a lot of military news to watch online and they also have podcasts freely available on iTunes for download

  • Iraq Coalition Casualty (http://www.icasualties.org/oif/) is not an uplifting website, however it is a good source to locate specific information regarding a soldier, unit, etc. I have used it to look at how many soldiers in my son’s unit were killed and the official military press release to match it. While it sounds bad, it also helped set my mind at ease many times. I would hear about a casualty on the news in the area that my son was in, but didn’t actually know if it had to do with my son’s unit. It takes several days for the military to publish the name (all family must be notified first), but this website can sometimes help to determine the true location or unit that was affected.

  • Other useful websites: http://www.blackanthem.com/, http://www.blackanthem.com/, http://warnewstoday.blogspot.com/

Here are the most valuable communication tools I’ve found during this time:

  • A good laptop and webcam for your soldier, with a good headset and mike (Logitech’s 980445-0403)

  • A durable camera (Olympus Stylus 770 SW). While this camera is expensive, my son destroyed two others before it – so would have been cheaper in the long run. Sand gets in everything in Iraq, these cameras can be rinsed off with water and can survive a lot of abuse.

  • Yahoo Messenger works great even with slow internet connections in Iraq. Also, for us family members, you can setup Yahoo IM to work on your cell phone so no matter where you are, you can be online for your soldier. Video quality via webcam is pretty good most of the time too. It really helps to be able to see your soldier live while IMing with him.

  • Skype Messenger works great to allow your soldier to call you at your home, cell or anywhere else, plus can IM or call you on your computer. I set my son up with SkypeIn ($60/yr) and SkypeOut Unlimited ($30/yr) services. SkypeIn service provided him a local phone number that friends and family could call him and leave voicemail messages. If he is online at the time, they can actually reach him by phone – all for no per minute costs. SkypeOut Unlimited allows him to call anyone in USA for no per minute charges – I think he can also do conference calls.
    o http://www.skype.com/products/skypein/
    o http://www.skype.com/products/skypeout/

  • AAFES AT&T Calling Card – This is the cheapest reliable calling card I found, but still about $0.25 per minute from Iraq to USA. I would check my son’s balance on a weekly basis and recharge if necessary, so he wouldn’t have to worry about it. Since they only have limited time for phones and many times stand in line for an hour to make a call, I always wanted to make sure he had enough minutes to handle it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

13 Steps to Recovery/Integration for Soldiers becoming civilians

Thanks to Nick for forwarding this email to me. This is pretty funny - Soldiers and their families will really be able to relate to this...


Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Great Thanksgiving for the Schriefer Family

This has truly been a great Thanksgiving for the Schriefer Family. Nick is finally out of Iraq and on his way back to the USA. Jill and I are spending this weekend doing our Christmas Shopping, like many Americans. But our greatest Christmas gift has already been received. For the first time in years, neither of our sons will be at war. Nick will soon be back from serving 15 months in Iraq and Jon was recently informed that they would not be deployed on his second tour to Iraq for quite some time - hopefully never.

I feel guilty feeling this way, while so many other families have sons and daughters still there, and many who will never return. But I'm confident that all the other parents understand my selfishness, and for that - my thoughts and prayers are with you this holiday season.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Article: A village blossoms in Iraq, while U.S. support lasts

By NANCY A. YOUSSEF, McClatchy Newspaper

(excerpts) JURF AL-SAKHR, Iraq In this desolate tiny town in what was once called the Triangle of Death, signs of the violent past mix oddly with evidence of today’s more tranquil life.

Large plots of land emptied by car bombs sit next to refurbished buildings. A new water treatment plant looks out to blast walls that have not been necessary for months. A newly opened clothes shop is next to one that has been shut for ages.

The U.S. calls this former al-Qaida stronghold a paragon of post-surge Iraq. Violence has come to a near standstill. Yet the government that has emerged is far from the democratic republic once promised...

...“This place is about all kinds of agreements,” said Lt. Col. Robert Balcavage, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. “The central government right now is too far removed. I mean, if these people were to rely on the central government, they don’t see any hope there. So what we are doing is bringing government from the ground up.”...

Entire Article

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

Please take a moment to remember those who have served and those continuing to serve on this Veteran's Day.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Article: U.S. posts drop in Iraq war deaths

This article from the Baltimore Sun mentions the 501st PIR.

...The experience of Balcavage's battalion, the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, shows why.

This summer his soldiers began working with local tribal elders to aggressively recruit Iraqis. To date, they've signed up about 1,480 into the Iraqi army, 400 into the local police and 2,200 as citizen security volunteers.

"That's about 4,000 guys we've taken off the streets," Balcavage said. He said many of them are former hard-core Sunni insurgents, but "they believe they're going with the stronger side."

Rocket and mortar attacks on his battalion, which reached a high of 45 in March, dropped to one in September, he said. Attacks with roadside or vehicle-borne suicide bombs dropped from 61 in March to six in September, and small-arms attacks declined from 39 in January to five in September.

Now, with Iraqi security forces moving in behind him to maintain order, Balcavage's 800 paratroopers are pushing into what he said is "the last stronghold" of the extremist Islamist group al-Qaida in Iraq, northwest of Iskandariyah.

"We went looking for a fight, and we're hunting them right now," he said...

Entire article

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Buy This DVD --> Outside the Wire

Buying this DVD will help fund the completion of Johannes' current movie project - Crunch Time. This movie-in-the-making shows Army soldiers in action in Iraq, including the 501st and 509th out of Fort Richardson Alaska.

Watch video clips of the upcoming movie, including this one at the bottom of Johannes' webpage.

From the website:

Outside the Wire
This is the Iraq War you won't see on the evening news.

Former Marine and television news producer JD Johannes traveled to Iraq with his old Marine Corps unit to produce syndicated TV news reports for local stations.

From those reports comes a view of the war that only the grunts who operate outside the wire experience.

From a dust-up with Al Qaida outside Abu Ghriab, to a night raid on the home of an insurgent leader, you will see what the Marines saw and hear the story in their own words of why they joined, volunteered for the deployment, why they fight and what it is like to go outside the wire and into combat.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Article: Fortifying an Outpost Against al-Qaeda

An excellent story from Time Magazine regarding the 501st. -Tavis
I had to fill a sandbag before I could enter the chow hall this morning to eat breakfast. It's a new rule at this forward operating base south of Baghdad where I've been traveling with soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment for most of the week. I guess I probably could have said no, argued that I was a civilian or that by doing so I would break some sort of magical neutrality and become a combatant. But I filled it with whatever patriotism I could muster at 6:30 a.m., and then went about my business as a reporter and asked everyone around me, "Why?"

"They're for OP-3," most of the troops said with a certain pride before tossing their heavy green sacks onto ever-growing pyramids and walking smartly off to chow. This is the story of how I tracked my sandbag to OP-3...
Read entire article

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Operation Gecko IIIA With Blackfoot Company 1/501st Footage

11-Oct-2007: B-roll of U.S. Army paratroopers conducting joint patrols with concerned Iraqi citizens. Scenes include fire fights with al-Qaida and a patrol looking for improvised explosive devices. Produced by Sgt. Ernest Henry.

Operation Gecko in Jurf As Sakhr

5-Oct-2007: With additional assistance from coalition forces and increased participation from the residents, the region of Jurf as Sakhr has made a dramatic change from once being a haven for terrorist activity. SGT Ernest Henry shows us how Paratroopers from 1-501st continue to affect change in the area.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MSNBC: Fighting on the water (FOB Iskan area)

2nd Brigade Combat Team engineers from the US Army's 4th Infantry Division search for insurgents and weapons caches on the Euphrates River in the Triangle of Death, south of Baghdad, in February 2006.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sunnis, Shias Put Differences Aside for Peace

KALSU, Iraq – The government of Musayyib hosted a celebration of security and economic growth at the city’s police station, Oct. 8.

In a move that could prove to be the turning point in sectarian violence in North Babil, leaders from the predominately Shia city of Musayyib came together with sheiks and representatives of the largely Sunni region of Jurf As Sukhr to share their optimism for the growth and development of the entire area.

With Sunni extremists influence such as the Jaish Al Islami and al-Qaida from the north and west, and Shia militias such as the Jaish Al Mahdi rising from the south, the region surrounding Musayyib and Jurf has been a sectarian battleground for years.

With the security celebration in Musayyib, the sectarian tensions seem to be finally coming to an end.

The chairman of the Musayyib Town Council, Thamir Thaban, and Sheik Fadel Yousif, a representative of the newly formed Jurf As Sukhr government, gave speeches praising the drop in violence and pledged to continue their work together to bring a lasting peace to the region.

Thaban is a member of the Office of Mahdi Sadr, the political wing of the Jaish Al Mahdi, while Fadel was once a leader of the Jaish Al Islami.

With these two former enemies coming together, they have created a bond and a possible model for all of Iraq to follow to finally bring an end to the sectarian violence which has plagued the fledgling government.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

MSNBC - The Fight For Iraq - Regional Power Play

Here is an easy to follow explanation of Iraq and Middle East politics. It is very interesting to listen to.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 05, 2007

Spartan Soldier survives multiple terriorist attacks

Sep 19, 2007
BY by Sgt. Marcus Butler 4th BCT, 25th ID PAO

ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq - It can be easy to be brave when surrounded by fellow Soldiers, but it takes real courage and fortitude when it is just you facing the danger head on - especially when that threat is two massive truck bombs.

A sniper's round came dangerously close to Sgt. Jason Stegall's head. Stegall, a team leader in B Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, received his second Purple Heart Medal during this firefight.

Sgt. Jason Stegall has been recommended for the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for valor for his actions March 26, as he and another paratrooper destroyed two truck bombs before they could harm the base...
Please read this whole article here

Article: U.S. takes Anbar model to Iraqi Shiites

By Gordon Lubold, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 2, 2007 edition

Forward Operating Base Iskan, Iraq - The violence has dropped dramatically, say US commanders, in the towns surrounding this base in northern Babil Province, south of Baghdad.

In May, four improvised explosive device (IED) attacks targeted the battalion; none in August, says Maj. Craig Whiteside, executive officer of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment. Fewer undetonated IEDs have been found – five in May and two in August. Indirect fire and small-arms violence have also dropped from about a dozen incidents in May to less than three in August.
Full Article

Friday, September 28, 2007

My Thoughts

My thoughts and prayers go out to Spc. Sandoval, Sgt Evan Vela and Staff Sgt Michael Hensley. America has chosen to place them in the most difficult situation that humans can endure. They have spent over a year protecting our country and our countries interests in a hostile area where we are the only ones that try to play by the rules. Many times they have made difficult decisions performing duties that most Americans are unwilling to do. I hope for the best for these soldiers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nick Update

Jill and I spoke had a good conversation with Nick last night. After we hung up, he was going to chow then going to get a wisdom tooth pulled out. The other three will need to come out too, but they think those can wait until after he is back in the USA.

Nick says that things in Jurf have improved so much that it is suprising. He said that you can almost walk around out there now and feel safe. He said that people around there actually are starting to be nice to the US Soldiers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CNN - Sunni insurgents side with U.S. against al Qaeda

YUSUFIYAH, Iraq (CNN) -- Until recently, Yusufiyah was among the most dangerous places in Iraq.

Located in the so-called "triangle of death," a violent area south of Baghdad, it was the site of frequent clashes between coalition forces and Sunni fighters. In May, two U.S. soldiers went missing in Yusufiyah and were never found, despite a massive search.

But today, Sunni tribal leaders in this town cooperate with U.S. forces in their battle against foreign fighters and al Qaeda in Iraq.

"It's all the roll of the dice. It's people and politics all intertwined down here," said Col. Michael Kershaw, commander of the Second Brigade, 10th Mountain Division...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11

The new exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, for example, is not a commemoration. “Here Is New York: Remembering 9/11,” which opens today, is exclusively about memory, which doesn’t diminish its power. In two galleries 1,500 inkjet-printed photos taken six years ago during those apocalyptic days are mounted with simple stationery clips. They are reminders of hidden pressure points and buried sensations...

“Here Is New York: Remembering 9/11” continues through Dec. 31 at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, at 77th Street; (212) 873-3400, nyhistory.org.

Link: NY Times Story

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Article: Sunni sheikhs turn their sights from US forces to Al-Qaeda

9-SEP-2007 -- FOUR months ago the scene would have been unthinkable. Captain Henry Moltz of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment led a small group of men up the deserted street to a single-storey municipal building of mellow ochre brick that had been cracked by mortar blasts during months of ruinous fighting with Sunni insurgents.

At the entrance he was greeted with a kiss by Sheikh Sabah al-Janabi, a leading member of the tribe that had spearheaded many of the pitiless Sunni attacks on American forces in and around the little town of Jurf as Sakhr, 25 miles south of Baghdad...

[Read the full story]

Link to original UK Sunday Times article

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Iraqi recruits head to “Boot Camp”

ISKANDARIYAH — Shiite and Sunni Muslims came from far and wide Sept. 2 to begin working together for the greater good of their country.

Sparked by a successful recruiting campaign, these Iraqis crossed over their sectarian boundaries and started their journey toward becoming the newest members of the Iraqi Army.

Congregating at the compound of 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, located adjacent to Forward Operating Base Iskandariyah, home of 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, these new recruits arrived by the truck load to be processed and transported to their basic training.

“The recruiting drive started on Aug. 12 and lasted through the 16th,” said Capt. Douglas Mulvaney, a member of Military Transitional Team 248. “In all, the drive yielded 1,500 Iraqis willing to join the Iraqi army.”

For many of the recruits, the fact that they are able just to have a chance to do something to help their country is reward enough. But for some, this opportunity means so much more.

“I am just glad that I have a chance to come here and be given the opportunity to show everyone that we want to change and make a better way of life,” said Ali Raghib, one of the recruits out of Jurf as Sakhr. “In my neighborhood, I see that things are getting better and I want to be part of the change in the right direction.”

Getting from their homes to Iskandariyah was the biggest challenge for most of the recruits because of the threat of sectarian violence.

“The Iraqi Army has given these people an opportunity to make something better for themselves and their friends and neighbors,” Mulvaney said. “It has erased the danger of traveling to and from different areas, which would have previously discouraged any activity like joining the Iraqi Army.”

The Iraqi Army transportation system took recruits from the compound to their basic training location.

“Seeing how they arranged for the recruits to get here safely is a true testament that the Iraqi Army system structure really works,” Mulvaney said.

For recruits, what awaits them is a rigorous 45-day training program where they will learn basic soldiering skills, rank structure and general military knowledge. Following basic training, the new soldiers will be assigned to different battalions and then go through a 30-day skill screening process to determine their strengths and be placed in a position equivalent to their skills.

“I am excited about the training we are about to receive,” said Hussein Resan Thaif, a native of Mussaiyaib. “I will do everything I can to serve my country and help my family to the best of my ability.”

In a country that has a high rate of unemployment, the recruiting drive for many is just what the doctor ordered.

“One of the biggest successes for this drive is that 1,500 people are going to be back to work,” Mulvaney said. “This eliminates the numbers of people who may turn to militia for money because it gives them another option versus killing for sectarian reasons.”

The recruitment drive was a joint effort between Military Transitional Team 248 and 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division. After months of planning and preparation, the vision has come full circle.

“Having been there side-by-side from the beginning and seeing these Iraqis arrive in swarms gives our Military Transitional Team and the Iraqi Army a great sense of accomplishment,” Mulvaney said. “Seeing all of our hard work pay off tells us we have done a small part to help each other make this country a safer place to live.”

Article: U.S. Efforts May Work Against Iraqi Self-Sufficiency

Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

..."We can fire the police chief, we can get the mayor removed if we want. Iraq is a sovereign country, don't get me wrong, but I wonder how much they would get their act together if our presence was reduced," said Maj. Craig Whiteside of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment.

"It's impossible to put the American military somewhere and not have everybody, when they have to make a decision, ask, 'Is this okay, boss?' "

In this region, where Sunnis and Shiite groups are battling for power, U.S. reconstruction efforts are largely focused on Sunni areas ignored by the Shiite-led government. U.S. officers say the Iraqi government is unwilling to spend money on Sunni areas because the United States is doing so...
Full Article

Abdul Amir Hussein works on a network of hoses that supply water to an apartment complex in central Baghdad. Power blackouts have hampered the capital's pumping and filtration stations.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Video Segment Covering Jurf as Sukr

This is part of Freedom Journal Iraq. A video podcast published daily by the DoD. This segment was from 28-August and covers Jurf as Sukr. Worth watching just to know how to say "Jurf as Sukr".

Monday, September 03, 2007

driFIRE Shirts - UPDATE

Here's an update on our efforts with the driFIRE shirts. We have raised just over $6,600 so far and are working towards our goal of $8,000.

Thanks to Robert Wilonsky from the Dallas Observer for his mention in his blog Unfair Park. This is exactly they type of help we need to get our word out and help us to reach our goal. (see the article here)

As many of you know, we have previously shipped enough shirts to the 3rd Platoon. They have received them and they are working out GREAT!! We recently shipped 2 shirts per soldier to 1st, 2nd and 4th Platoons, but we are hoping to reach our goal so that we can at least send them another shirt each. While they may wear the same shirt for four days at a time, it probably feels pretty good to have a clean one.

Money continues to trickle in, and we appreciate every bit of it. If you haven't already, please share with your friends. If anyone has any ideas how to help get to our $8K goal, please let me know.

Thanks, Tavis

Capt. Moltz Describes the Concerned Citizens Program at Jurf as Sukr

Capt. Moltz talks to a military reporter about the concerned citizens program in effect in Jurf as Sukr, Iraq, employing local Iraqis for the program, and improvements in areas where the program is in effect.

Source: http://www.dvidshub.net/vjump.php?vid=28244

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Concerned citizens root out terrorists

Friday, 31 August 2007
ISKANDARIYAH — The citizens of Iraq are fighting back against terrorists in one Sunni dominated area south of Baghdad.
Paratroopers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, are now fighting the enemy with information from hundreds of citizens who have pledged responsibility for the security of their neighborhoods.

The Concerned Citizens Program is similar to an all-volunteer Neighborhood Watch. During a recent operation in Jurf as Sakhr, concerned citizens led Iraqi soldiers and U.S. paratroopers to a stronghold where five al-Qaeda members were killed after paratroopers called in precision air strikes from helicopter gunships and U.S. Air Force fighter jets to destroy the building.

This has been the first attempted attack by al-Qaeda and other extremists since the Concerned Citizens Program began almost two months ago.

"This is a resounding victory for the concerned citizens and for the Coalition Forces. The few remaining extremists have nowhere to hide because the population will no longer harbor them" said Capt. Henry Moltz, commander, Company A. "There are 160 paratroopers in Company A, but with the Concerned Citizens there are now thousands of eyes and ears working toward the same security goals."

There are now more than 500 registered members of the Concerned Citizens Program who have volunteered to protect their villages and roads while they await training for the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police forces.

At least 300 concerned citizens have already been accepted into the Iraqi army. Moltz estimates another 300 people will register for the Concerned Citizens Program in the next few weeks, and that the Iraqi police will begin to accept the concerned citizens into their ranks within the next month.

Jurf as Sahkr has long been one of the most hostile and dangerous areas of Iraq.

"In the past three weeks these brave volunteers have helped clear their villages of terrorists who are no longer welcome here," Moltz said. "Together with the local population, almost all of Jurf as Sahkr has been reclaimed from al-Qaeda and other extremist fighters. The streets are finally quiet."

Video: Apache Company and Blackfoot Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne
B-roll of U.S. Soldiers patrolling Jurf as Sukr and conducting an air assault. Scenes include Soldiers experiencing a nearby explosion during their patrol, being airlifted into their assault area, and discovering weapons caches. Two Soldiers are interviewed at the end; Capt. Kevin McDaniel (4th Platoon Leader) and Sgt. Steven Caldwell (2nd Squad Team Leader).

Source: http://www.dvidshub.net/vjump.php?vid=28243

Video: 1st Lt. Harrington, Platoon Leader, 2nd Platoon, Blackfoot Co.
Talks to a military reporter about facilitating local nationals with their checkpoints, discovering a weapons cache at a nearby hot spot, and his pride in his unit. Also see "Concerned Citizens Program/Blackfoot Co. 1/501 Air Assault and Patrol" in the B-roll section and "Capt. Moltz" and "Sgt. Coyle" in the Interviews section.

Source: http://www.dvidshub.net/vjump.php?vid=28245

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Concerned citizens, Coalition Forces destroy weapons cache, insurgent safe houses

ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq — With help from the concerned citizens of Jurf as Sakhr, Iraqi and Coalition Forces identified and destroyed an enemy fighting position and safehouse Aug. 25 as part of Operation Gecko.

Paratroopers from 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division acted on a lead from a concerned citizen on a known enemy fighting position suspected of containing a mortar tube with ammunition.

Once the location was identified, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters engaged the location with one missile, rendering the position useless to the enemy, and the Paratroopers of 1-501st Abn. destroyed the remains of the bunker.

Continuing to follow the lead of the concerned citizens, Paratroopers were then taken to an al-Qaeda safehouse where five armed terrorists were hiding. The location was marked and destroyed with a 1,000-pound bomb, killing the five al-Qaeda militants.

Operation Gecko is systematically cleaning up the area, removing deadly roadside bombs and capturing or killing the terrorists and militiamen responsible for the violence and chaos that had blanketed the region.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Concerned Citizens Lead IA Recruiting Drive

KALSU, Iraq – As concerned citizens stand up and secure their homes and communities against terrorists and militias all across north Babil, they are also standing up and leading the push for legitimate security forces in the area.

Iraqi army recruiting has reached a near record in the city of Iskandariyah and the surrounding areas thanks, in large part, to concerned citizens wanting to do more to help their families, friends and neighbors in the fight against militants.

“More than 1,400 people have made the decision to join the Iraqi army during the five-day recruiting drive,” said 1st Lt. Tyler Mitchell, of Wasilla, Alaska. “Due to sectarian violence, this is the first recruiting drive we have had this year.”...

Read full article here

Friday, August 24, 2007

Paratroopers check up on Shiite, Sunni neighborhood

ISKANDARIYAH — With the influence of Sunni and al-Qaeda pressing down from the North and West and Shia and Jaysh al-Mahdi rising from the South and East, the city of Iskandariyah straddles the fault line of sectarian violence.

The epicenter of sectarian tremors in the area is the Hateen Apartment complex, a neighborhood of more than 25,000 Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Paratroopers from 1st Platoon, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 509th Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and Military Policemen from 3rd Platoon, 127th MP Company are tasked to provide security in the area and keep extremist influence to a minimum.

“The militia has a pretty good hold over the Hateen Apartments by keeping the people in fear,” said 1st Platoon leader Capt. Paul Pena, of San Marcos, Texas, Co. D, 3-509th Abn. “Although, now our presence in this area is welcomed, and most of the local people are starting to help us, accepting the change.”

Even though Shiites outnumber the area’s Sunni’s roughly 70 to 30, this area has been relatively calm over the past months. First Platoon has conducted more than 40 missions in this area over recent months, and Paratroopers can see the difference that their hard work is making.

“We can tell that we are making a difference by the drop in violence in this area,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Brown, platoon sergeant, of Huntsville, Ala. “Now people are always coming out and thanking us for our help.”

Even though the area is a mix of Shiite and Sunni, most residents of the Hateen Apartments seem to get along just fine.

“I live across the hall from Sunnis,” said a Shiite resident of the Hateen Apartments. “We are all Iraqis, and we get along fine.”

With Shiites and Sunnis beginning to live in harmony in this area, and with violence on the decline, Paratroopers from 1st Platoon still will not get complacent.

“No matter what, I am always thinking of the task at hand,” said Pfc. Matt Lundberg, of Fayetteville, N.C. “Keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary and completing the mission.”

Now that the violence has subsided, the focus shifts to rebuilding.

“Along with searching for intelligence leads to militia activity, we also just sit and talk with the residents to see what we can do to help make their neighborhoods better,” Pena said. “We work closely with the Iraqi Security Forces and community leaders to help make their neighborhoods better and take responsibility for the future of their homes.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Safe house destroyed, rockets discovered

KALSU, Iraq – An insurgent safe house was destroyed by a precision air strike after four rockets were discovered on the property by Coalition Forces southwest of Iskandariyah Aug. 12.

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters spotted rockets aimed at a Coalition forward operating base after conducting a reconnaissance mission in response to an indirect fire attack on the base earlier in the day.

When the rockets were spotted, Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, launched a quick reaction force to secure the site and retrieve the munitions.

Once on scene, Soldiers searched the house and surrounding area and confirmed four 240mm rockets with launching rail systems, circuit boards used for setting up and firing rockets, load bearing equipment, a pistol belt, ammunition vests, knives and other materials, including new bed rolls, which were barricaded inside one room of the house.

After the rockets and equipment were secured, U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets dropped three 500-pound bombs to destroy the house.

The munitions and equipment were recovered for use in the investigation.

This video is of 1-501st PIR, Blackfoot Company in Iraq on a night mission on 12-AUG-2007. It may not be associated with the same incident.

How Hot is It?

We think its been hot here in Texas, but that's nothing. Here's a picture of a thermometer at Camp Victory in Iraq, and its from a month ago... its even hotter now!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

driFIRE Shirts - UPDATE

Here's a quick update on our efforts with the driFIRE shirts. We have raised just over $6,000 so far and are quickly nearing our goal of $8,000.

Our sucess so far has been thanks to three main events;

1st - Our friends and family who have contributed themselves and have passed the word on to their friends,
2nd - The Dallas Morning News article. (see the article here), and
3rd - NBC Ch. 5 in Dallas aired three segments on the news (see below).

Money still continues to trickle in, but we may need one more event to reach the goal. If you haven't already, please share with your friends. If anyone has any ideas how to help get to our $8K goal, please let me know.

Thanks, Tavis

501st Soldier Fund on NBC Ch5 in Dallas

On Sunday, August 5th, Channel 5 interviewed the 501st Soldier Fund regarding our efforts. Here is our 30 seconds of fame that appeared on both the 5PM and 10PM news. We also heard that there was a story on Monday morning's news, but we didn't Tivo it.

THANKS CHANNEL 5!! This was a boost when we needed it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Article: In the Land of the Blood Feuds

In the pre-dawn gloom, through weary villages shaded in gray, the soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, searched for the enemy. An aerial drone had spotted men burying weapons in a nearby Sunni cemetery.

The soldiers walked along a thin ribbon of sandy road, flanked by tall reeds
and palm trees, until they reached this forlorn place covered with crumbling gravestones. Silence mocked the unit, for the men had vanished. Soldiers pried open graves searching for the cache and 15 minutes later found four guns and some ammunition. Lt. Thomas Murphy, 32, wondered who the men had been. Members of al-Qaeda in Iraq? Loyalists of the former government? Tribesmen?

"Here we have so many different enemies," he said.

On the unruly outer fringes of the Sunni area south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death, American soldiers navigate more than a dozen battle zones straddling the fault lines of sect and tribe. Al-Qaeda in Iraq -- identified by President Bush and his generals as the main U.S. enemy -- is just one of myriad armed groups competing here for influence and authority. This arid region nourished by the Euphrates River is a microcosm of the many often-overlapping conflicts that have erupted across the new Iraq.

"We're fighting in multiple directions," said Col. Michael Garrett, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division.

In Garrett's office at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, near the Triangle's southern edge, a large map of his brigade's theater of operations hangs on the wall. South of Kalsu, the land stretches toward the Shiite cities of Musayyib and Karbala. To the northwest, across the farmlands of Jurf al-Sakhr and Khidr, Sunnis are in control. And to the north is Iskandariyah, a volatile mixed-sect town of factories and low-slung buildings.

(This is a detailed article from the Washington Post and a very good read. It provides insight to the political tactics being used to try and curb the violence in the FOB Iskan region. -Tavis)

Full text of article

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Al-Qaeda terrorist captured during Marne Avalanche

Iraqi Security Forces and Paratroopers captured a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist wanted for a string of attacks against the security forces and citizens in North Babil during Operation Marne Avalanche, August 5.

The Iraqi army, police and Paratroopers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division conducted an early morning raid in Snadeej near Jurf As Sukhr to capture the suspected insurgent.

“More than 50 IPs, 20 IA soldiers and 50 paratroopers participated in the operation,” said Capt. Henry Moltz, commander of Company A and Midlothian, Texas native. “The populace was very receptive to the ISF-led operation and a local source pointed the man out to us.”

Thanks to joint operations like this one, the Jurf As Sukhr area is on the road to security and stability, Moltz said

“This operation marks 50 days in Jurf As Sukhr with no attacks, as compared to six months ago when there was at least one attack every day,” Moltz said. “The drop in violence is a testament to the Paratroopers and Iraqi Security Forces who have embraced the Joint Security Station concept and who have trained and fought side by side.”

The JSS isn’t the only key to success in the area. According to the soldiers and Paratroopers who work in the region, citizens are a big factor in their success.

“The people in Snadeej and Jurf are tired of violence,” said Moltz. “They are tired of being scared. They want a better life.”

During Operation Marne Avalanche, the Paratroopers of the 4th Brigade have killed 16 insurgents, conducted numerous precision raids, captured more than 110 insurgents including eight cell leaders and other high value individuals.
Link to article

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist captured during Marne Avalanche

Iraqi Security Forces and Paratroopers captured a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist wanted for a string of attacks against the security forces and citizens in North Babil during Operation Marne Avalanche, August 5.

The Iraqi Army, police and Paratroopers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division conducted an early morning raid in Snadeej near Jurf As Sukhr to capture the suspected insurgent.

“More than 50 IPs, 20 IA soldiers and 50 paratroopers participated in the operation,” said Capt. Henry Moltz, commander of Company A and Midlothian, Texas native. “The populace was very receptive to the ISF-led operation and a local source pointed the man out to us.” ...
(full article)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Article: A Perilous Alliance With Former Enemies

FORWARD OPERATING BASE ISKAN, Iraq -- Inside a brightly lit room, the walls adorned with memorials to 23 dead American soldiers, Lt. Col. Robert Balcavage stared at the three Sunni tribal leaders he wanted to recruit.

Their fighters had battled U.S. troops. Balcavage suspected they might have attacked some of his own men. The trio accused another sheik of having links to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. That sheik, four days earlier, had promised the U.S. military to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq and protect a strategic road.

"Who do you trust? Who do you not trust?" said Balcavage, commander of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division, his voice dipping out of earshot.

An hour later, he signed up some of America's newest allies...

(This is a detailed article from the Washington Post and a very good read. It provides insight to the political tactics being used to try and curb the violence in the FOB Iskan region. -Tavis)

Full text of article

Sunday, August 05, 2007

driFIRE Shirts - UPDATE

I would like to update everyone on our efforts with the driFIRE shirts. So far we have been successful in raising just over half of our $8000 goal.
Recently, the Dallas Morning News wrote an article on our efforts. This provided a boost in contributions to our current level. (see the article here)

It is great that in one month, we have made it over halfway to our goal, but we still need more help.

Thanks, Tavis

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Moment of Silence

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the soldiers and families of the 25th Infantry. Please take a moment of silence for our two fallen soldiers.

Two Fort Richardson paratroopers died and 10 were wounded during an attack on their base in Iraq, U.S. Army officials said Friday.

The paratroopers died Tuesday in what the Army called an indirect fire attack on Forward Operating Base Kalsu. Their names were not released, but Lt. Col. Jonathan Allen, an Army spokesman, said the next of kin had been notified.
One of the wounded paratroopers was reported in serious condition. The soldier was evacuated to a military hospital for treatment.
The remaining nine soldiers were treated at their base.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Spoke with Nick

Spoke with Nick this morning. He is doing well and was happy to receive a couple packages. One had his new boots - which is very good, since his old ones had a large enough hole in the toe that you could stick your hand through! He had other boots, but those were is comfortable "walking" boots. He also received a box of instant cold packs that I shipped several weeks ago. He is going to give some to his medic and take some out to Jurf to try them out. I shipped about 120 total, so he has several more boxes coming with them.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

CNN - Rebuilding Iraq's Police in Jurf Al-Sakhr

Here is an interview with CPT Moltz, Nick's Commander, regarding the police station in Jurf.

Article: Enemies Unseen (Time Magazine)

Picture Caption: Staff Sgt. Billy Wallace, a survivor of the Karbala attack Jan. 20, stands at Forward Operating Base Iskan, a U.S. outpost sprawled around a power plant outside of Iskandariyah, Iraq.

The five sport-utility vehicles sat abandoned in the darkness. A faint beeping sound signaled that their doors were open. Some of the Iraqi police who arrived at the scene initially feared going near the cars, thinking the sound meant they were rigged to explode. Finally a few ventured closer. In the back of two of the vehicles were the four Americans. One of them was alive, though barely. Handcuffed, he had been shot in the back of the head, but he was breathing. The other soldiers were already dead. One had taken bullets in both legs and his right hand, and at some point the kidnappers had torn open his body armor and fired bullets into his chest and torso. Two others were handcuffed together, with one's right hand joined to the other's left. Two shots in the face and neck had killed one. Four bullets in the chest had killed the other...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

driFIRE Shirts - UPDATE

Here is another update on the contributions for the driFIRE shirts.

116 driFIRE shirts shipped to the 3rd Platoon of Apache Company, 1-501st PIR yesterday.

With the latest count of soldiers in the 3rd Platoon, we were 20 shirts ($360) from completing our first goal. As of today, we have received enough contributions to order the remaining 20 shirts and supply every soldier of the third platoon with four driFIRE shirts each!!

Our success with this effort has pushed us to move to our next goal. We would like to supply driFIRE shirts to every soldier in Apache Company of the 1-501st Parachute Infantry Regiment.

We believe that everyones contributions will make a difference in these sholdiers lives, but this is just 32 soldiers of the 120 in Apache Company. All of these guys are fighting together and we can't, in good conscience, stop after just being able to help my son's Platoon.

All contributions, no matter how small, are most appreciated. I invite everyone to read through this blog and get to know what these soldiers are facing and achieving on a daily basis. Please click here for additional details regarding the driFIRE shirts.

We are able to accept your contributions by mail at the following address or online by credit card (click button below).

501st Soldier Fund
PO Box 116955
Carrollton, TX 75011

All questions or comments can be emailed at 501stSoldierFund@gmail.com.

Tavis Schriefer

Proud father of SPC Nicholas Schriefer, 1-501st PIR, FOB Iskan, Iraq
Proud father of SPC Jonathan Schriefer, 576 Eng Co, Fort Carson, Co.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Article: Iraq Is Lovely -- from the Air

Here is a good article from the blog of ABC News' Terry McCarthy.

July 11, 2007 10:06 PM

Today we flew down south in Blackhawk helicopters along the Tigris River over the musical-sounding towns of Mahmudiyah, Iskandariyah. We passed over green fields and huge groves of palm trees watered by the network of irrigation canals coming off the Tigris.

We saw farm houses with cows and sheep outside, and men out in the fields working, not bothering to look up at the metal birds that are now so familiar to them after four years of war. Idyllic as it seemed from the air, on the ground it is a different story. This is the infamous Triangle of Death, an area of land south of Baghdad controlled by al Qaeda extremists who have kidnapped U.S. soldiers, terrorized the local population, and sewn the roads with deadly bombs. Helicopters are the only safe way to travel across this part of Iraq with its invisible threats underground.

Our destination was a couple of U.S. bases -- Forward Operating Base Kalsu and Patrol Base Murray (somehow they lack the musicality of the Iraqi place names). The soldiers here are part of the surge -- the last troops to arrive, in fact, as part of the increase in U.S. troops that began back in February.

Many of the soldiers we met today had only been in their base for three weeks, and were still adjusting to the heat -- over 120 today. One commander had to ship 23 men out to recover from heat exhaustion. Iraqi summers.

The soldiers are moving into areas that had not been intensively patrolled before, but somehow al Qaeda knew they were coming, and put in so many roadside bombs -- IEDs in military speak, for improvised explosive devices -- that a number of roads were regarded as simply impassable.

Rather than risk soldiers' lives in an attempt to clear IEDs from some of these roads, they came up with a typically American solution -- they called in powerful B1 bombers to drop sticks of bombs all along the most dangerous parts of the roads, which blew up and set off a series of secondary explosions wherever the IEDs had been planted. Simple, effective, nobody gets hurt -- and the engineering corps is left with the huge job of building a new road…

The soldiers' primary mission here is to find the factories where car bombs are made for use in Baghdad. In the past three weeks they have found three, which were disguised. As one colonel explained, "They know we have Predator drones and helicopters in the air, so they put the car bomb factories in garages or car washes, which have a reason to have cars inside and so don't look suspicious." From the air, Iraq looks fine and peaceful. It is only when you get on the ground that you see the scars of war.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

driFIRE Shirts - UPDATE

Here is a quick update on the contributions for the driFIRE shirts.

I have just placed an order for 56 shirts to be shipped ASAP. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.

Also a special thanks to Jay and Valerie Chamberlain who placed an order yesterday for 60 shirts for the 3rd Platoon.

This brings our total so far to 116 shirts. With the latest count of soldiers in the 3rd Platoon, we still need about 20 more shirts ($360) to make our goal of 4 shirts per soldier. All contributions, no matter how small, are most appreciated. Please click on the link below for additional details.

Here is a perfect example of the current temperature in Iraq. My son, Nick, loves Top Ramen. He told be recently that they no longer have to heat water to make the soup. He simply cuts the top off a water bottle and pours the ramen noodles in. The water is hot enough to cook them on its own.

Tavis Schriefer

Proud father of SPC Nicholas Schriefer, 1-501st PIR, FOB Iskan, Iraq
Proud father of SPC Jonathan Schriefer, 576 Eng Co, Fort Carson, Co.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

(Jurf al-Sakhr ) Thousands of US, Iraqi troops strike Al-Qaeda strongholds

American and Iraqi troops south of Baghdad have launched another large-scale operation to try to keep weapons and militants out of the capital, the U.S. military said Monday.

Operation Marne Avalanche is focused on “enemy sanctuaries” in Jurf as Sakhir and an area known as the Fish Farms, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division — which is in charge of the area south of Baghdad — said Monday.

Both areas are near Iskandariyah, about 35 miles south of Baghdad, and the operation is being led by the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.

In all, some 5,000 U.S. and 3,500 Iraqi troops are involved in Marne Avalanche...

Read entire article at: http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=47407

Other coverage:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Paratroopers Capture Cell Leader

KALSU, Iraq – Task Force Geronimo paratroopers captured a cell leader responsible for conducting rocket and improvised explosive device attacks in Iskandariyah, July 9, near Mussayyib.

Paratroopers from 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, conducted a raid on the man’s house and arrested him without incident. The man was responsible for conducting attacks against the residents and security forces of Iskandariyah.

The cell leader is being held for further questioning.


Monday, July 16, 2007

driFIRE Shirts - UPDATE

Here is a quick update on the contributions for the driFIRE shirts. So far we have received $683 towards our goal of $2784. I also hear that additional contributions are on the way. Thank you so much for everyone's help on this and we hope to achieve our goal soon.

Details about the driFIRE Shirt Contributions

Article: Troops’ Focus, Motivation Remains Rock-Solid, Says Senior Enlisted Advisor

While the buzz at home centers on benchmarks measuring progress in Iraq, troops on the ground are focusing on their mission and what they’re accomplishing, a senior enlisted advisor said today.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bernie Knight said via conference call from Iraq he seldom hears his soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team talk on a big scale about whether “we are going to win this thing or not win this thing.”

Rather, he said, they’re looking at their own slice of the action – in their case, security operations in Iskandariyah – and focusing on the changes they’re making there.

“North Babil (province) has changed quite a bit in the past eight months we have been here. It’s a tribute to what the men are doing,” Knight said of his Fort Richardson, Alaska-based troops. “I think they are motivated to try to see the difference here, and get (the Iraqis) to do it on their own.” ...

Read the entire article

Saturday, July 14, 2007

UPDATED: Two Al-Qaeda Militants Captured in Jurf al-Sakhr

2 Captured During Operation Geronimo Strike III
4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division

KALSU, Iraq – Paratroopers from Strike Force Geronimo detained two suspected al-Qaida insurgents during an air assault and raid, July 10, northwest of Iskandariyah.

Paratroopers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 509th Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division conducted Operation Geronimo Strike III in order to capture members of an al-Qaida cell wanted in connection with the kidnapping of three American Soldiers and other attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

“Tonight, we conducted an air assault into the Jurf As Sukr area looking for two high level targets - some of the guys involved in the missing Soldiers incident,” said Capt. Matthew Gregory, commander of Company A and a Charlotte, N.C., native. “This is an area that coalition forces had not been to in a little while. This shows them we have the ability to get in places they thought they were safe and get them where they live.”

In addition to capturing the cell members, the operation netted two AK-47 assault rifles, eight fully loaded magazines, two hand grenades and a ski mask.

“Going after the worst of the worst is what Operation Geronimo Strike was designed to do,” said 1st Lt. John Lafferty, a platoon leader with Company A, from Valdese, N.C. “There are guys who are on the fence, and when they hear we’re capturing their leadership, we have a better chance of stabilizing the government and legitimizing the security forces here.”

The insurgents are being held for further questioning.

The weapons and ammunition were confiscated for use in the investigation.

Picture Caption: 1st Lt. John Lafferty, a platoon leader with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 509th Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division searches the inside of a target house during Operation Geronimo Strike III.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Contribution request for Nick's Platoon - driFIRE Shirts




People have been great at sending care packages to Nick's unit, and they really appreciate it. I don't like asking people for money, but I think this is worth it and I can't do it alone.

I am asking for contributions to send driFIRE shirts to Nick's platoon in Iraq. The 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1-501st PIR can benefit substantially from our help. Right now, temperatures in Iraq are reaching 120 degrees and more, and it isn't the hottest part of the year yet.

While some of the soldiers already have moisture wicking undershirts like Under Armor and others, these shirts can be harmful in case of an incident. If exposed to fire or extreme heat, these shirts can melt to the skin and increase the injury to the soldier.

driFIRE shirts are fire retardant. Additionally, they are reported to perform better and cooling soldiers down than the other brands. I was introduced to driFIRE shirts thanks to Jay C., a father of another soldier in Iraq. Jay was succesful in pulling contributions together to provide 180 shirts to his son's Company in the 425th. He was fortunate to get coverage in their local newspaper. Please read their story:

More info about driFIRE shirts are available here:

We are able to get these shirts for $24 each including shipping. My goal is to receive $2784 in contributions ASAP to cover shirts for all the soldiers in Nick's platoon (4 shirts each for 29 soldiers).

Please help by contributing some money towards this cause. 100% of the money received will be used for these shirts. If you have any questions, please contact me at 501stSoldierFund@gmail.com.

If you would like to send a check, please make it payable to:
501st Soldier Fund
PO Box 116955
Carrollton, TX 75011

You can also make your contribution by credit card securely through PayPal by clicking on the "donate" button below:


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Article: OP Geronimo Strike Finds AL Qaeda Safe Houses


A paratrooper with Company B, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, searches the area outside one of the al-Qaida safe houses discovered during Operation Geronimo Strike.

KALSU, Iraq - Paratroopers discovered, then destroyed, three al Qaeda safe houses during an early-morning raid near Jurf As Sukhr July 3.

Operation Geronimo Strike, conducted to prevent anti-Iraqi operations and attacks, was an air assault raid on Kalsu's Fish Farms area.

Company B, 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division Paratroopers discovered several houses used by al Qaeda to meet, train and hide weapons.

"Tonight we did an air assault raid into an area used by the insurgency. Basically, we did a search on what we thought were safe houses for terrorists," said Capt. Charles Canon, Company B commander.

While the Paratroopers were searching the area, they discovered two houses filled with weapons and explosives. A third house was booby trapped.

"In one of the buildings, we found an IED in the process of being made, we found a terrorist safe house, and in a third building, we found a bunch of propaganda and materials, CDs, and some cameras and things like that," continued the Orlando, Fla., native. "It definitely seemed like a propaganda publishing house, or something of that sort."

Because one of the houses was also booby trapped, the commander called in AH-64 Apache helicopters to destroy the three buildings. Paratroopers found two anti-aircraft rounds in a fourth house, which was not destroyed.

With the area searched and the safe houses destroyed, the Paratroopers returned to Forward Operating Base Kalsu.

"This was our first company air assault in this sector. I think we did a very good job," Canon said. "The aviation, the (tactical operations center) and the men of Blackfoot did a great job and the mission went very well."


Information about Jurf as Sakhr

This morning, I read an interesting article that describes Jurf, the area and the polotics. Keep in mind that the article is one year old and refers to the the First Battalion, 67th Armor, based at Fort Hood, TX. These are the soldiers that Nick's unit, 1-501st PIR, replaced late last year. I wonder just how different a follow-up article would be if the same reporter went back now.


"...Jurf as-Sakhr, also known as Jurf, is 40 miles south of Baghdad. It is a community of crumbly dirt farms and dilapidated weapons factories and boys selling fluffy white chickens alongside the road. It sits right on a sectarian fault line that in the past few months has cracked wide open..."

"...The battalion returned to Iraq in December 2005 and is now thinly spread over 2,700 square miles between Iskandariya to the north and Karbala to the south. Because of all the insurgent activity, the military includes this area in what it refers to as the Triangle of Death.

One of the hottest spots is Jurf, once home to lush date plantations, a Scud missile testing site and the Medina Division of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard. After the invasion, Jurf, with its concentration of former officers, Baathists, weapons experts and leaders of the powerful Janabi tribe, predictably festered, becoming a terrorist sanctuary.

Just south of Jurf is Hamiya, a mostly Shiite farming town that never enjoyed Jurf's whiff of privilege. While Jurf farmers drove tractors, Hamiya farmers swung hoes, and in an atmosphere of rising sectarian tensions, these deep-seated class rivalries eventually exploded. South of Hamiya are the almost purely Shiite towns of Musayyib and Sedda..."

Full Article

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Joint raid captures insurgents in Jurf As Sakhr

Iraqi Army and Coalition Soldiers conducted a joint raid and captured two insurgents in Jurf As Sakhr, Saturday night.

Iraqi Army soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi army division conducted the raid, while Paratroopers with the 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division provided a cordon and security for the soldiers.

The men were wanted in connection with attacks against the local Iraqi Security Forces in the area.

After the arrests were made, the Iraqi army turned over the detainees to the Iraqi Police for further questioning and to await trial.