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...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

TV: Alaska troops battle sectarian violence

KTUU TV, Anchorage, Alaska
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

They might be cities you've probably never heard of; Iskandariyah, Haswah and Eskan, but they're seeing a surge in sectarian violence with attacks on religious mosques.

A battalion of Fort Richardson paratroopers have found themselves right in the middle of the violence.

In the town of Haswah, a suicide truck bomber blew up a Shi'a mosque on Saturday. It left 11 dead and 44 hurt. Among those killed were 3 Iraqi police officers.

Shi'as struck back, attacking a Sunni mosque with rocket-propelled grenades. A second Sunni mosque was attacked as well.

The First Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Richardson is in Iraq, backing up local forces.

The commander of the 1-501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, Col. Bo Balcavage said the situation in Iraq will take some work.

"I think it will take some patience and some determination by an Iraqi police force and Iraqi army that has not yet been challenged like this in this area," Balcavage said.

He said hostile sectarian terrorists may be moving out of Baghdad because of increased security and the troop surge.

Troops are moving into places like Iskandariyah where the battalion is working to bolster Iraqi forces.

Balcavage said police units remain infiltrated by Shi'a militias and the war's ultimate success remains with them.

"We can kill terrorists here all day long, unless we increase the capabilities of the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army, we won't continue to move the mission forward," Balcavage said.

The recent surge in violence south of Baghdad has not claimed any U.S. troops, but Balcavage said it will likely get worse before it gets better.

The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment is part of the 4th Brigade, which has lost 25 soldiers since being deployed to Iraq last fall.

IM'd with Nick Last Night

Jill and I IM'd with Nick for a while last night. He crushed half of his right middle finger when a buddy accidentally dropped a 90 pound weight on it. He said that it popped all the blood vessels in the finger. He was going to see the medic again before leaving for Jurf for the next 8 days. He said its not going to stop him, he'll just be hate'n life for a while.

Jill sent Nick some battery operated fans a few weeks ago, both hand-held and desktop. He got them and is taking them with him to Jurf. He said its really hot there now. He took the portable showers we shipped last year and is now able to use them (couldn't use them when it was cold).

That's all for now.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just spoke with Nick

Just spoke with Nick for a while. He is back from a mission for a few days and is doing OK. More info to come later.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

1-501st Casualty

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the soldiers and family from the 1-501st for their recent casualty.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher R. Brevard, 31, of Phoenix, died Mar. 16 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit. Brevard was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Update from Nick

I spoke with Nick yesterday. He had just returned from a Jurf and said things had really changed since he was there last. This was his first time there in over 30 days. He said that one of his buddies refers to it as Camelot (but without the mote). The FOB is much bigger now and has increased sleeping areas so it can handle a lot more troops (Iraqi and American). They have built a guard tower that is the tallest thing around and overlooks everything in the area. Some of the buildings have electricity now (from generators) and he thinks his building will have power next time he goes there - but none have A/C. With the new schedule, he has been able to find more time to sleep - but now its getting hot and the insects are coming out. He said the mosquitoes are getting really bad and they are very big. Also the ants - which Nick says are about the size of a quarter.

Nick said they bought some chickens from a local farmer and brought them back to the FOB where the IA prepped and cooked them - it tasted very good. He said that he was carring a chicken by its feet in one hand and his weapon in the other hand. The chicken kept pecking at his hand to try and get loose. Next time, he said they are thinking of buying a lamb.

One item he can use is sunflower seeds (in the hull). They go fast there because they all sit around and eat them. I've noticed that Planters sells a 7 oz bag that is recloseable.

New Baby Coming Soon!

I spoke with Jon this past Sunday. He said the baby is doing fine and they are expecting their baby boy to be born in 2 - 4 weeks. Jon, Stephanie and Phoebe are all sick with a bug that's going around Fort Carson, but other than that everyone is good. They have registered at Wal-Mart's Baby Registry (http://www.walmart.com/baby). You can either print it out and take into a store, or shop on-line. Good Luck to Jon and Stef - your about to have TWICE as much fun now!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spoke with Nick this morning

He is back at his FOB and will be going on a mission for several days.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Nick back in Iraq

Nick is now back in Iraq. We IM'd for a while this evening and he is in Baghdad waiting on transport to his FOB.

Nick on way back to Iraq

I spoke with Nick this morning. He is now in Kuwait and waiting for a flight to BIAP (Baghdad International Airport). They had a stop in Hungary, but weren't able to get off the plane. After a few hours layover, they proceeded on to Kuwait.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Pictures of Nick's R&R and Jon's Visit

Click on the picture to go to the collection of pictures from Nick's R&R visit. Jon, Stephanie, Phoebe and Crash came in from Colorado to visit as well and we all got the family together for a party.