"The Essex and Abe" is the latest installment in my poetic memoir, A Wave of Poetry. Due to worries surrounding civil unrest and rebel activity, higher HQ eventually decided that it was too dangerous for us to stay on the ground in Indonesia overnight. Daylight ops continued, but we were ferried over the Indian Ocean via helicopter to spend our nights on the USS Essex (pictured upper left) or USS Abraham Lincoln (pictured lower right). These twice-daily helicopter rides over the open ocean to and from Navy ships were probably more dangerous than just staying on the island, but that is typical military logic.
From a morale standpoint, the change was most welcome. It was wonderful to have access to clean water, hot food, functional bathrooms and showers, clean comfortable though cramped quarters, an NEX, and a fully-equipped gym. Best of all, the ships had reliable ship-to-shore phones and Internet access, so I was able to communicate with my wife every day.