Local residents rally to supply camouflaged "Cool Snakes" to <BR>U.S. Marine squad

A group of Kingman residents went the extra mile to help keep a squad of U.S.

Marines cool while they finished their tour of duty in Iraq.

It all started in May when Harold Rank, who lives in Colton, Calif., called Kingman Daily Miner outdoor writer Don Martin.

Rank's son, Lance Cpl.

Harold G.

Rank IV, and his squad of Marines were deployed in Iraq enduring 100- plus degree heat while conducting peacekeeping and rebuilding efforts there.

Rank said he had tried to find Cool Snakes - pieces of cloth filled with polymer particles that swell and become cool when immersed in water - in desert camouflage print in California.

He had no luck.

Worn around the neck, these snakes cool the blood to the brain and make activity in the sun easier.

"He asked if I could locate some items that were marketed locally under the name of Cool Snakes," Martin said.

"Knowing how hot it is over there, Harold felt that if he could get each member of his son's squad a Cool Snake in desert camouflage it would help them out."

Martin said the secret of the desert is to stay hydrated and stay cool.

"I have been using the snakes for years," said Martin, who takes people hunting.

"Depending on how hot it is, they stay cool for about an hour.

Then you just re-soak them and they are good to go again."

Martin called Garry Garland, owner of Garland's Fishing Products in downtown Kingman.

"I knew that Garland had been a dealer in these items, as many local anglers use them when fishing the hot Colorado River lakes," he said.

There was a glitch, however.

Most of the Cool Snakes in stock were solid red, white or blue, not the required desert tan and brown camouflaged that blends with desert uniforms worn by troops in Iraq.

Garland offered to donate the bright solid-colored snakes if someone could take them apart and re-sew the polymer "beads" into desert camouflage material.

No problem.

Martin called Page McDonald, a member of the Mohave Sportsman Club - and a talented seamstress - who quickly agreed to the project, and the search for the desert camouflage cloth was on.

"That was the tricky part," McDonald said.

"I found some desert 'camo' in Kingman, but when I went back for more they were out."

Enter Mohave Sportsman Club members Jim and Marti Jett, who found some desert camouflage cloth at Wal-Mart in Lake Havasu City.

After taking the first Cool Snake apart and using it as a pattern, McDonald spent about eight hours putting 15 of the snakes together.

She then sent them, at her expense, to Rank and the squad in Iraq.

The Marine's father offered to pay for the time and materials to complete this project, but one would accept his money.

"These boys have to make good decisions.

Life and death decisions," Martin said.

"They have to have a cool head.

We were happy to help."

Martin has heard that the squad received the Cool Snakes, which were much appreciated, and that the unit has returned to the United States.