Smoky Carat

The Rose Garden

If you have been through Navy OCS, you know what and where the rose garden is. Chances are you probably left some skin and pride at the place, doing pushups. And (surprise) it is not only at OCS, but in Thailand too:

Q: Where was the Rose Garden, Marines?

A: It was at Nam Phong, Thailand, just outside Bangkok. It was an air field we started building in WWII and went back to as Vietnam was winding down. It was much like DaNang with the Marines and Air Force separated. The Air Force had wooden barracks and the Marines had mud and tents. I think the base is still in use.

That’ll be all about the rose garden. . .

Errrrr-rah Marine, Cobra Blood!

Navy OCS, Pensacola Florida, ’05- We are standing in formation. Our drill instructor is talking to us in his usual low growl. Since I am tall, I’m in the back. And I can see everyone in front of me. Not that I look anywhere, but dead ahead. I ain’t dumb.

A supply officer candidate in the first row turns ever so slightly to watch a garbage truck pass. Big mistake. Our DI is all over him. Oh, so you like that truck?

No, Sir!

I think you do, Crazy. Tell him you like his truck.

I like your truck, the candidate says in a loud voice.

You had better yell there, Candidate. 


That’s right. Now all you, get in the grass and push. 

Into the crabgrass we run and crank out pushups. The grass’s rough, but after you get accustomed to pushups, and we are accustomed, they click by like clockwork. I even smile. To myself. While thinking: I like your truck!

Why, you might ask, would our DI be so concerned about eyeing a truck? Because it shows lack of focus. And focus is often required for survival in hairy situations:

Uncle Sam wants you — to drink snake blood, eat bugs and slaughter chickens.

A U.S. Marine drinks cobra blood Monday during a jungle survival program as part of Cobra Gold 2012, a combined military exercise at a navy base in Sattahip, Thailand.

U.S. Marines participating in jungle survival courses in Thailand are captured in a series of startling photos drinking cobra blood, noshing on native insects and beheading at least one live chicken as part of an annual training exercise with allies in Asia.

Some 13,000 soldiers from 20 different countries participated in Cobra Gold.

Known as Exercise Cobra Gold, the event brings together some 13,000 soldiers from more than 20 nations, including the U.S., Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

Get some. Cobra Blood.