ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Seaman Joviena Kay looks across the waves toward the devastated coast of Sumatra, remembering a time 13 years ago when she huddled on the same deck with evacuees from another great Asian disaster.
In 1991 A gigantic eruption of Mount Pinatubo rained crushing volcanic ash on Joviena and her mother's home in the Philippines. More than 700 people died. Navy was evacuating American citizens from the disaster area, they packed a few clothes and rushed to the U.S. base at Olongapo City, its streets flooded by a tropical storm. Married to a Navy man stationed in the United States, her mother carried an expired identification card, but the guards let them through the gates and onto the Abraham Lincoln. On its maiden voyage, the ship led a 23-ship armada that carried away 20,000 military dependents, children and civilian workers. After nearly a year in the United States living with grandparents, she and her mother returned to Olongapo City, where her mother owned a bar frequented by sailors. But U.S. forces were pulling out, Joviena's father had died, education costs were rising and the prospects of a job were dim. Joviena followed a time-honored tradition in the Philippines: She joined the U.S. Navy - and found herself assigned to the ship that saved her. The carrier's crew, including Joviena,Are now at Sumatra, where entire communities were obliterated and isolated survivors badly needed emergency aid that only the ship's helicopters could deliver. Like almost everyone on board, Joviena volunteered to help in the relief operation ashore, loading food and water onto helicopters and carrying the injured being evacuated from ruined villages. But she and the other Culinary Specialists and kitchen workers have been banned from entering a potentially disease-ridden area for fear of food contamination. This story more then most really touches my sole, I hope my Philippine love child follows a similar course.