First Message 16 March 2003 from the USS Gunston Hall
* Three days before "Shock and awe" and the beginning of the war.

We've been on a ship in the gulf for weeks, going a little stir crazy.

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Joe's computer table (Ironing board)

** This is "joeslist"! Your (hopefully) daily taste of the war from somewhere

in the Gulf. You get this because I only get to send 2 emails per day (when
it's working) and I want all of you to be informed, and possibly entertained.
If you'd prefer not to get this, or get it sent to a different address please
contact and tell him this. I won't be offended (much).
I understand what it's like to get WAY TOO MUCH email these days. I will assure
you that I won't be pitching you for a mortgage or penis enlargement, however.
If you think that somebody would enjoy this or find it useful, please feel free
to forward it on to them, but let the rest of us know who else is "out there".
Some questions can't be answered due to security constraints. **

Hi all!
Greetings from the Lovely and luxurious USS Gunston-Hall (for all your amphibious
transport needs). My name is Joe and I'll be your "khaki" this evening, please let
me know how I can be of assistance (would you like fries with that?).

Today is Sunday, with a "holiday" schedule, (no annoying reville, boatswains
piping or stupid announcements until a civilized hour <8 AM>). Later, there'll
be a "steel beach picnic" with BBQ and even a "talent" show (this could
be amusing or annoying, we'll see). I just came up from "brunch" which was
good (omelette, sausage, waffle. The food's not bad on here). It's freezing
in here (our berthing space), but I've set up shop in a storage closet with
the laptops set up on an ironing board. I've got my music playing and feel
like I'm elsewhere, and wish that I was. But it's OK. In a twisted way it's
kind of relaxing, it hasn't gotten REALLY boring yet, I'm trying to hold that
off with various semi-pointless activities. Our LT (officer in charge), who's
a really good guy is just shy of climbing the walls already (he says no, but
it's easy to tell). I can see that happening to all of us.
LT Haas & the MU7 crew
From the left: Joe, Lt. Haas, Scott, Tim

There are 3 of us here from EOD Mobile Unit SEVEN, they are Tim Rainer: a good
friend of many years and several operations and exercises. Tim's an 'IT' (He
prefers 'radioman'). Tim's from Grand Rapids, Mich and likes to work on and ride
in his Dune Buggy in the local desert. Also along is Scott Moneypenny, an 'EO'
(equipment operator) but don't be fooled, Scott is a former Marine and mechanic...
Actually Scott can do ANYTHING from weapons to dive, jump, fix or rig anything.
Between Tim and Scott there's not much that we can't handle. I am possibly the
least capable of us, though my 'geek' skills come in handy sometimes. we've been
temporarily assigned to NSCT-1 (Naval Special Clearence Team one), a mix of
SEALS, Marine RECON and EOD technicians--- Good and very capable company.
USS Gunston Hall

Ship Facts:
The "1MC" is the main, "goes everywhere" Public Address system. It is with you
in the head, in berthing and basically everywhere. During the day, it makes
Home Depot sound tame. Most announcements are preceeded with one or more long,
extremely annoying whistles from a "boatswains pipe". Most of the announcements
are not relevant to you (Tweeeeeeeet! Seaman Apprentice Doofus, Dental!). The
ships Captain (while a really nice guy) is working on a talkshow gig. He is like
one of those Airline Pilots who just gives you too much information. Barely
5 minutes go by without some form of audio intrusion. There are also other
noises too numerous to mention, bells, buzzes, alarm tests and spoken gibberish.
Speakers have been known to "fail" during heavy usage periods (I brought tools).

There is a closed circuit TV system called "site tv" which seems to break when
the news is on. This JUST happened again! Some (suspicious) types would suggest
that there is a conspiracy here, but I have found that incompetance is most
often the culprit. If the goal was to keep the news from us, I doubt that they
could effectively pull it off! I heard a report from Radio Moscow the other day
that blew my mind, it said that Bin Laden had been arrested in Pakistan. I tried
to find another source to corroborate the story. I wasn't able to. It could be
true and just not for dissemination but more than likely was an error or
intentional misstatement.Oh, I heard that if our ship was allowed to stay in the
yards for three more weeks (it got called out early) we would have phones and
high speed internet. That would have been much better. (growl)
Current Conditions:
Warm with a breeze (except in our berthing space), waters are calm.
Boredom index (0=Exciting 9=Excruciatingly dull) today = 6
Bored Chiefs
Recent Correspondence:

Molly Wrote:
I really enjoyed your e-mail today. You sound good.  Dad and I are going to
get you the workout gear and send it ASAP!

Joe sez:
Many thanks! Word is that snail-mail is running 7 days, down from 4 weeks!
We've done some "rewiring" here to fix things, but if you could
add a couple of extension cords to that list (6-15 feet), three prong if
possible. It's amazing what you CAN'T find in a ships store or even on
shore. They always put the power outlets in dumb places. Some of the guys
watch movies or play games in their racks at night. You walk through here
and see faint glows coming from behind the little curtains from the PC's.
Some of the Brits cell phones work from up on higher decks, getting service
from nearby cities (30 miles away). Mine hasn't worked yet (built in antenna)
but if it does I'll give you a call.

Molly Chimes in with:
We had a big rain storm today. The wet dogs are inside and they really
stink up the whole house! Robb is working all weekend getting things
ready for the trip next week. Yesterday he bought a DVD recorder because
the client wanted a copy on DVD. So maybe we can send you some DVDs. Do
you have a DVD player with you?

Joe sez:
We have LOTS of DVD players here! We have a kind of low-rent "home" theatre
set up in our space here, it only seats 5 but seems to be adequate. It would
cool to get anything that you think would be interesting (you KNOW what I like)
though news from there would be interesting. Later, it'll be fascinating to
know how what you saw and what we KNEW were different, and they WILL be.

Molly sez:
I heard back from Gina, she said thanks for the e-mail, that was nice.
And John has already been working on your mailing list as he sent me a
test. I'm glad you have some good friends but you deserve it!

Joe exclaims with great enthusiasm:
Yeah, I do have the best friends in the world. You can see it and will see
it more as you get to know each other through actual personal interaction
or just by reading the conversation on here. I've known this for a while,
but I guess I never really realized how many of you are out there who don't
know each other (yet), this may fix that situation. Thanks to John for making
it easy, actually possible to do this. For you who don't know, John is my
business partner and a best friend, seemingly forever. He is paying my bills
while I'm gone and ensuring that there will be something there when I return.

Molly further sez:
I am very nervous about the 17th deadline. I pray you will be okay. I
dreamt the other night that you came home. I am looking forward to that
day. I miss you.

Joe responds:
I'm not sure how important that "deadline" actually is. I know that we're
not paying any attention to it. Heck, did it even get "approved" by the UN?
We're just anxious to get this over with, done, and get the f*** out of here.
I'm going to take some type of extended diving/drinking/relaxing trip when
I get out of here, and after I see you'all and convince myself that everything
is "normal" again.
John Higdon sez:
I sent a test message to and it was delivered to
all recipients. Let me know if you want any other lists created or any
additions or subtractions.

Joe Responds:
Thanks John! You're (as always) a lifesaver! This would definitely suck more
without this. In fact, I think that the list thing is kinda cool. If possible
could you give Isabelle Drake a call (805) 555-2368 and get her email and add
it to the list. I don't have access to my "normal" email account info. I think
that she'd enjoy it.
My Dad (Ken Talbot) Writes:
Molly sent me a copy of your latest e-mail. Really enjoyed it,.sounds like
things are going pretty well. Glad they have a Gym on board. How is the food?

Joe Replies:
I was complaing about the gym (it's tiny, crowded and has nothing), but it
is better than nothing. On the flip side, the food is pretty good which may
be a problem <grin>.

My Dad Continues:
On the national TV news last nite they showed a short clip of a British Navy
unit that clears mines.Sound familiar?

Quite. Those guys are a lot of fun and have a great reputation. There are
Aussies involved as well.

My Dad continues:
The story line was how the British are contributing to the effort.Now that
I have your FPO address I will send you copies of the pictures we took in SD.
I havent had the roll developed yet but I will now.

Joe Retorts:
It's been really crazy/busy until recently, so I haven't taken too many
pictures yet, though several of us have digital cameras and we've agreed to
share our pictures. One of the guys, a civilian has taken some really great
shots, he's a semi-pro photographer. actually he's really good! I'll send
you some when I can, and I'll have disk or two when I get back.

My Dad further suggests:
Its been raining all day. As you know we need it. The last two Weds. We have
walked in the Fullerton Hills. The city bought the old Union Oil property.
They have cut trails thru it for walkers, bikers, & horses.The city also
bought the train track right a way from a local RailRoad Co.{ long defunct}
that had tracks between the orange groves and the packing warehouses. The
city converted these rights-of-way to trails. Interesting walks. We plan
to walk a different section next Wed. Take care of yourself. Love Dad

Talk to you soon!
If there's something that I can answer, please write me! I love hearing from


List Business:
Please add divedemo@deleted larrylm@deleted,,

Personal Business:
John could you please visit the 'mypay' website and check to see if they've
screwed up my pay. We can't check it from the ship. Let me know if you have
any questions about that whole thing. I may ask you to check a few other
other accounts on there as well.