1st Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade

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Three Snakes in One Day

We were on a normal search and destroy mission that began at 4:00am. That morning we went down to the pontoon and boarded our Navy landing craft as usual and as usual we were all jammed into our boat. Most of our platoon was still trying to wake up and arranging web gear and checking weapons. As usual diesel smoke drifted over the boat making some of us nauseous as we rode the waves up the Mekong River. Amazingly, some of the boys had fallen sound asleep before we landed.

Soon, it was time to disembark, which is always troubling not knowing if we were going to be met by Viet Cong RPG’s, claymore mines, automatic weapon fire, etc., when the ramp slams down.
Thankfully, we disembarked without incident and we moved on to our patrol. We walked for about 8 hours until it was time to set up our night defensive position, then it was my team’s job to pass out c-rations and to set up aiming sticks for over lapping fire.

Just before I went to perform this task we heard a rifle shot. I was next to a radio and heard someone higher up asking about the shooting and a few seconds later a voice came on the radio saying someone shot at a snake.  The voice told him to pass it on to not shoot unless it was at the enemy. Off I went to the perimeter and as I was passing out c-rations and checking sectors of fire I saw Bobby Balch out about 30 feet beyond our perimeter with a large knife in his hand and I asked what the hell he was doing.  One of the guys said Bobby was going to kill a snake. When I looked down I saw that he was about 6 feet away from two snakes twisted around each other which looked like a medical emblem. These two snakes were either fighting or mating. As Bobby got closer to the snakes they separated and stood up about 1 foot off the ground.  They were Cobras, small but deadly; some of these snakes can get huge. We yelled at Bobby to get his ass out of there before he was bitten which he did and we just laughed to ourselves wondering why the hell would a guy do something like that. Cobras are deadly poisonous!

I went back to my position and ate my c-rations; a little latter I needed to relieve myself so I went over to mini-latrine that one of the guys had made.  It was a hole about two feet deep with two sand bags on each side of the hole. Nice and comfy, but it was out in the open with one tree nearby and a low grass field around it. Well it was my time to use it so setting there I was thinking about our patrol objective when I noticed movement about 50 to 60 feet in front of me.  Then I saw the head of an animal moving toward me which I thought was a rat or a small mammal. As it got within 20 feet I realized it was a huge snake at least 6 to 8 ft long and moving extremely fast directly at me as I sat on those sand bags.  I was sure it would see me and turn away but it kept coming rapidly� what the hell!  Now 5 feet away, still moving at high speed, I froze. I was still certain it was going to notice me and change direction.  Wrong, wrong, wrong� it didn’t change direction it was like a laser guided missile, not one waiver.  Now it’s too late to get up and run. There I was, my pants down to my ankles hovering over the hole.  Great!  Caught with my pants down!  I never thought I would ever say that.  I didn’t want to be the butt of that standard old joke where a snake bites you on your private parts and you ask what to do and your buddy instead of saying suck out the poison, he says you’re going to die.  That snake kept coming and went right between my legs into the latrine hole and out of it still going like a snake out of hell.  Whatever what kind of snake it was, it was fast and huge. Snake number three!

John resting during a Camp Bearcat perimeter patrol searching for Viet Cong – March 1967. John is thinkin, hey, what am I doin’ here?!
Ben Acevedo (from the State of Washington) and John enjoying a one day R & R to South Viet Nam’s “really neat” Resort City, Vung Tau.
John Sclimenti – 1st Platoon’s Mr. Popularity acting crazy aboard the USS Benewah between patrols.
John & Dave Davidson on patrol near Bearcat. Dave’s head was so swollen (bug bite) he could barely wear his helmet.
1st Platoon troopers return to our barrack’s ship and clean off mud before boarding. See Jim Stephens smiling (center).
Larry Lilley, Don Peterson, Steve Huntsman, John, and
Bill Reed at Camp Bearcat – February, 1967.
John cruisin’ Camp Bearcat
1st Platoon headed out on patrol – Paul Roy, Dave Davidson, Marvin
Grover (I think) , and Sergeant Bobby Balch (at left).
Charlie Company troopers on the USS Benewah’s pontoon. . .
1st Platoon troopers ending a Mekong Delta patrol
& wait for a ride back to our barrack’s ship.  There’s
Ben Acevedo at left and John Young (center).
1st Platoon and USS Benewah sailors after a one day R & R in Vung Tau – it appears that Sgt. John Young had a rip roaring good time! Sclimenti happily reports that John Young barfed over the ship’s side.