New Zealanders have a fascination with snakes. That said, they like to have lots of room between the snake and themselves. It's not a fear I have but I saw it in all its naked venom when with 1Platoon W3 one day in the Light Green. The Light Green was a jungle area near the coast known as a patrol death-trap, with many friendly casualties over time from enemy mines or booby traps and always the high likelihood of contact with the VC. The platoon was inserted by truck from the Horseshoe and spent a long and tense afternoon quietly infiltrating deep into the region.

By late afternoon the platoon had located a well worn track with heaps of VC sign and moved into a position for an ambush. They carefully established their killing area, hid all sign of their presence and settled down quietly to await events. I was 30 metres back from the killing zone, in the platoon HQ area with the Platoon Sgt and others, at rest with the world, my back against a tree. I had survived being maimed on the approach into the area, there was a likelihood of contact in the next 24 hours and I was no longer required to carry my 50 Lb pack and radio.

When the harmless brown snake slithered out from beside the tree and across my boots I calmly looked at what I thought was a lovely example of the local fauna and quietly said to the signaller next to me "look at the snake". "SNAKEEEEEEE" screamed the signaller leaping to his feet and grabbing an entrenching tool, "SNAKEEEEEEE" screamed most of the troopies resting nearby, leaping to their feet and grabbing machetes, "SNAKEEEEEEE" screamed the guys at the ambush initiation point, leaping to their feet and stomping the ground around them.

And while I watched bemused several trained jungle fighters armed to the teeth with all sorts of blunt instruments chased the hapless snake to its death in the nearby vegetation. At the end of the five minute madness the platoon commander stood up, surveyed the damage to the once well camouflaged ambush position and calmly said "prepare to move, five minutes". And we humped our heavy packs away from the perfect ambush back into the killing fields around us....

Reference: 

Bruce Young. First published on the W3 Coy website.

How to cite this page: 'Snake...!', URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/memory/snake, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 4-Sep-2013