February 22, 1968
One morning when Papa-San arrived, we were taking a break and chatting over Ca phe. We heard a loud shrill, “eeeeeah, eeeeeah” coming from the pot shack (dish-washing area). A frog was stuck in some rock rubble next to the building. I started to reach down to pick it up, and Papa-San yelled, “NO!” After clearing away the rocks, we saw a bright green snake engulfing the frog’s legs.
Exposing the snake from the rocks, we could see its full size of about two feet and its yellow bulging eyes. The fangs were clearly embedded into the frog, and the process of the frog’s death was imminent.
Papa-San waved his stump hand around, lazily distracting the snake. In a split second he grabbed the snake behind the head with his right hand and held it firmly to the ground. Getting a solid grip, he calmly walked down the hill toward our perimeter and tossed the snake (still eating the frog) into the barbed wire barrier. The snake quickly slithered into the loose surface rocks and disappeared.
Hua interpreted Papa-San’s explanation, “The snake will help defend against vermin, rats, mice and other pests.” It was an interesting view into the Vietnamese culture and their respect for life, a juxtaposing belief that life should be respected . . . even in war.
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