Cdr. Edgerton, C. O. of the Gurke was fond of snakes. I recall we had at least 2 separate batches (six in one batch and I forget how many in the other) picked up in Kaohsiung and maybe Subic Bay. He had the yard in Subic make a big box for them, which was kept on the Signal Bridge. The QM's had the dubious honor of their care and feeding. Needless to say they were not a big hit with most of the crew.

I remember a couple of incidents when they got loose and under the duck boards on the bridge and into the ducting. Crewmembers were really rattled, especially those that were deathly afraid of snakes. I don't believe the X.O. would set foot on the bridge when they were out. Once when we were in Hongkong and the C.O. sent Ensign Will Gassett over to a British Destroyer with a snake in a canvas bag as a present to their Captain. Al came back with the snake and a message from the British Captain that our C.O. could stuff it where the sun don't shine.

He used to sit in his Captains chair and play with them. I remember I had the OOD one day. We were in formation and the OTC signaled to form a column. We were in EMCOM so we couldn't use the radar for ranges. We had to use a Stadameter (the instrument looks like a sextant) to give manual ranges to the ship ahead. It was kept in the pilot house. Unknown to me the Captain had gone back there and when I stuck my arm through a port, to have the QM put the Stadameters grip in my hand, the Captain had wrapped a snake around the instrument. I brought my arm out (still looking straight ahead at the ships taking station in front of us) and swung the eyepiece to my eye. When I saw the snake I flung the Stadameter and the snake against the splinter shield. The instrument was ruined and the snake went under the duckboards with the C.O. in hot pursuit trying to capture it. I stormed over to the opposite side of the bridge, madder than hell, and the Captain never said a word to me.

I also remember that the six snakes became five then four, three, two and finally one. Each time there was one missing there was a "Snake Search" conducted with the QM's being accused of dereliction of duty. The mystery was solve with the last two snakes when someone saw the tail of one snake sticking out the mouth of the last one.

There was also a major problem with the Agriculture Inspectors when we got to Pearl Harbor, on our way home. Seems as if they weren't too happy with the snakes. I can't remember what the outcome was. I think they were confiscated.

I also remember the C.O. was kicked out of one of the Officers Clubs because he had brought one of his snakes.

There are other snake stories I remember but it is time to give someone else a shot. Come on lets hear from you.

Bill Hegeman