King Cobra On Vacation

35 years after my Dad had been a Marine Infantrymen in the jungles of South Central Vietnam, He and I went back to meet with several Marine’s he served with during the year 1967. We visited Chu-Lai where he was wounded and a Navy Combat Medic saved his life after my Dad took shrapnel in his stomach. I have always grown up in the tropical climate of Tampa Bay, FL, where the humidity and heat is pretty bad, but the Jungle of Vietnam was sweltering and I was already soaked with sweat. The guide that was with us thought it would be ‘helpful’ to go through some denser canopies along the way. After a long 4 hours on our feet cutting branches and limbs without end, I had to stop. I developed an open sore on my foot, so I found a large tree with a lot of shade to sit under. I was really kind of regretting coming on the trip about this time because my foot was throbbing with pain and it was going to be another hour to get to Chu-Lai province.

Just about that time I heard a loud hissing, growling like sound that made my spine shake. The look on the face of the small Vietnamese man who was our guide told me this situation was bad. He backed up very slowly, along with my father and the two other former soldiers, and put his finger to his mouth as if to tell me not make a sound. My first instinct was to look up and find the noise, but I was totally frozen in fear. Right about then the guide raised his AK-47 and fired twice, a noise that I can still hear echoing. There was nothing; then three more shots in succession. My ears were still ringing when the biggest snake I have ever seen in my life fell from the tree limbs above me. A King Cobra 13 feet long almost had killed me, and was now laying on the ground not three feet from me. I’d like to think I was not in any danger, however the man who had lived there all of his life and spoke fluent English told us differently, Cobra snakes(especially King Cobra’ s) do not back off of prey, instead they are aggressive killing machines and with one bite can kill a fully grown elephant. I think I will use more caution when choosing my next ‘exotic’ vacation destination.

J Lee

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