BigWindow BackArrow
War Stories

Murphy and the Snake

Jim Rodgers

Sometimes you just have to have little fun.


The Allied Shops included the Tool Room, the Avionics Shop and the Armament Shop. Manuel Gallor, the previous Armament Shop supervisor had deros’ed home some time ago. I had been in charge for a number of months and had several 45J20’s (armament repair) assigned to me.

Murphy Charlie Wilson was in charge of the Avionics Shop and had a man by the name of Murphy assigned to him. I don’t recall Murphy’s first name (see Photo of Murphy on the right).

First, a little background on Charlie and Murphy:
Charlie was of smaller stature, probably 5’ 6” or 7”, and weighing some 160 lbs or there about. Murphy was from New York I believe and stood some 6’ and weighed 200 lbs plus or minus. Murphy was probably a body builder while Charlie was not. He was always giving Charlie a hard time but it was mostly in fun. Charlie’s answer to this ribbing was to remove his hat and swipe it at Murphy.

One morning, after formation, I was walking to the Armament Shop with the two other armorers. Charlie was walking with us. Murphy must have been behind us. Charlie unlocked the Avionics Shop and we had stopped short of the allied shops for some reason, probably to talk to one of the maintenance guys. Anyway, Charlie opened the door and Murphy walked up beside him and knocked him out of the way. Off came Charlie’s hat. We saw this and knew a hat whooping was coming.

Charlie started into the Avionics Shop and, as he reached the doorway, Murphy burst out of the shop knocking Charlie down. Just like a cartoon show. Murphy was running at top speed across the hanger. Charlie jumped up and, this time he was a little mad. As Murphy reached the midpoint across the hanger he shouted “Snake!”

Snake? This stopped us all in our tracks. We all know the about the snakes in Vietnam, the two step ones, etc. What kind of snake was in the avionics shop? Charlie, the two armorers and I, looked around` the doorway into the avionics shop. Just poked our heads around the doorway and not exposing or bodies to possible harm. There, coiled in the middle of the concrete floor was a small snake. None of us had seen a snake like this one, I don’t recall it’s color but do remember` it had the largest mouth I had seen for one this size. It was probably a little less than 18” long. How were we going to reclaim Charlies shop? We couldn’t shoot it, .556 rounds would ricochet off concrete and this was inside the hanger.

I told the guys to watch the snake and opened the Armament Shop. I had several old M-60 barrels that I hadn’t disposed of yet and retrieved one. It was long enough that I wouldn’t get within range of the snakes strike – I hoped plus it had the heft that I could use against this critter.

Returning to the Avionics Shop, I proceeded to dispatch this snake to where ever dead snakes go off to. It was striking at me while I flattened it out, thus I saw the size of its mouth. I lifted the now dead snake and laid it outside the hanger where no one would stumble across it. I pointed its location to as many of the guys as I could find with the warning not to go near it until the sun went down. Old time story based on the snake’s ability to bite even though its dead.

This isn’t the end of the story though. We had learned that Murphy was afraid of snakes. This could be used for some fun later.

A couple of weeks went by with Charlie getting abused by Murphy followed by the hat whipping. It was now time to use the knowledge we had gained. Sand bag ties, when coiled together do look a bit like a snake. Especially when placed in someone’s bunk under the covering. Murphy had gone to the showers while we got things ready. When he returned, the stage was set. We were sitting around, enjoying an ‘adult’ beverage when he threw back the covers and glanced at the display we provided for him. He ran most of the way to the airfield that night, bare foot and in boxer shorts.