It was the summer of 1973. The place was MCAS Rose Garden, Nam Phong, Thailand. I was stationed with MATCU-62, MAG-15, Task Force Delta, as an Air Traffic Control Radar Tech (5953). That was right around the time that President Nixon was saying that there were no Marines in Thailand.

We were waiting for the crew truck to arrive so we could go to work. A few minutes before the truck showed up, a couple SNCOs came down from Staff and Officer country, also to get on the truck to go to the site. As we were waiting for the truck, one of the troops asked the SNCOs if they would mind looking at the snake he had found. It seems that the day before, the young lad was sitting at a table in the Club having a drink. The Club was an open sided building with a thatched roof. At some point during his visit to the Club, he felt something touch his leg. Upon investigation, he found the colorfully banded little snake to be the culprit. He picked it up, examined it closely, and decided to take it back to his hooch.

As there was still time before the truck arrived, they accompanied the young marine back to his hooch to see the snake. The proud owner of the snake reached under his cot and pulled out a cardboard box, opened it up, and reached in and pulled out the snake. It was about 6 inches long and had multi-colored bands all along it's body. The SNCOs took one look at the little critter and requested that the young snake handler please place the snake back into the box IMMEDIATELY!!! They then escorted the young lad across the road to sickbay so a corpsman could confirm the identity of the snake. They definitely had their own suspicions as to what type of snake it was.

The corpsman on duty, an old 1st Class, was told the story and then shown the snake. The Corpsman took one look at the snake, turned pale, and closed the top of the box. He seemed quite nervous as he broke out the book and poisonous snakes. Imagine his surprise when the corpsman showed the young fellow a picture of his little pet snake, an Oriental Coral Snake! Death follows in seconds after the bite, or so I've been told.

The corpsman then proceeded to carry the box out of the building and to the road, where he stopped the first truck that came by, dumped the snake out of the box into the road, and had the truck run over it multiple times until it was a couple microns thick and quite dead.

This is just one of the pet stories to come out of the Rose Garden. It's amazing what a young Marine from Middle America will try to make a pet.

Semper Fi