Local News

Special Forces soldier killed by snake bites

Posted September 17, 2008

— A Special Forces trainee died of multiple bites from a water moccasin during field training in June, Army officials said Wednesday.

Pfc. Norman M. Murburg, 20, was conducting the individual land navigation exercise in Hoffman training area, near Camp Mackall, on June 9 as a part of the Special Forces Assessment and Selection process conducted by the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, officials said.

Murburg reached the first point along the course but failed to check in at the next point or the assembly point at the end of the exercise, officials said.

Ben Abel, a spokesman at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School, said his body was found the next day, along with all of his personal equipment, including water and emergency equipment.

An autopsy ruled out heat or dehydration as a cause of death and determined a cottonmouth moccasin – one of six venomous snakes in North Carolina – bit Murburg.

Its bite destroys tissue and is fatal without medical intervention. Symptoms include extreme swelling, burred vision and vomiting.

Abel said Special Forces training includes wildlife safety, including identifying snakes. But, he said, "you're not always going to be aware of 100 percent of everything around you."

Nearly 500 soldiers spent 21 hours searching for Murburg, Abel said. None of his emergency devices, including a high-frequency radio tracker, had been activated.

“Pfc. Murburg’s death reinforces the dangerous nature of the training that our soldiers undertake to prepare themselves for the rigors of Special Forces,” Maj. Gen. Thomas Csrnko, commander of the Kennedy Special Warfare Center, said in a statement.

“We go out of our way to stress safety in all that we do, but there are some circumstances that are out of our control.”


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • pam2 Sep 18, 2008

    My heart felt sympathy and prayers to this hero's family.

  • doghousebrewery Sep 18, 2008

    "How do you thank someone for sacrificing his life? My sympathy to his family and loved ones. This certainly is a tragic lodd for all involved."
    ** teacher-mom **


    Its so sad that so many can't understand the ultimate sacrafice made by our soldiers, police officers, firefighters and ems workers across this country every day. This man died while training to protect your rights and freedoms. How you thank them is by keeping your self-centered comments to yourselves and not disrespecting the agencies and groups they work for. If more people were willing to lay down there life for others instead of hiding behind a keyboard this country would be alot better off.
    nuff said!

  • Myword Sep 17, 2008

    Yep, these things make copperheads look like wussies. So sorry he had to die like that.

  • zanerx Sep 17, 2008

    I know next to nothing about moccasins, except to stay away from them. Would he have had no time to operate his radio or turn on his tracker?

  • BruiserB Sep 17, 2008

    Cottonmouth snakes are way more aggressive than diamondbacks, copperheads, coral snakes or timber rattlers. They are not only on the ground or in water but also tend to hang in low tree branches. They will congregate in a mass as well. And their bites can be FATAL. Some venomous snakes will give a dry bite, that is, they will not inject venom. Cottonmouths always inject venom and unlike most snakes that strike and retreat, they continue to strike and bite.

  • hollylama Sep 17, 2008

    I've stumbled upon a snake before in the brush and until they move its very difficult to differentiate between them and the foliage around them. He may not have even realized he had been bite...particularly when navigating through brush and briars.

  • tgcmisc Sep 17, 2008

    Prayers for the family & friends of the soldier. We need all the good soldiers we can find.

    Having hunted in the area where the soldier died, I can personally attest to the fact that there are BIG snakes in the swamp and they are NOT intimidated by humans. We were carrying in a ladder stand to a "wet" location when one of the guys up front yelled..."anyone got a pistol....forget it....you couldn't kill them all...". We decided to retreat and rethink the location of the deer stand.

    These snakes are really BIG...some of them were bigger than the large end of a baseball bat....and they took several direct hits from hollow point 44 mags to finally take them out.

    As a child, I killed a copperhead with my tricycle by riding over the snake repeatedly. Once my mother was revived...I developed an abnormal fear of snakes...

    I respect them...but if they are on my property endangering my grandchildren...then they will be dispatched.

  • cool_rocker999 Sep 17, 2008

    RIP soldier, thank you for the sacrifice you made in preparing to defend this country. May God comfort his family and friends in their time of need.

  • goheels_15 Sep 17, 2008

    "goheels_15, Don't be so nasty. It didn't seem to me as if they knew for sure"

    what about the title of the story and the first line of the story was vague to you? geez dont blame me if you think that 1+1 usually seems to equal 2 but then again it sometimes just might possibly equal 3.

  • ERRN Sep 17, 2008

    goheels_15, Don't be so nasty. It didn't seem to me as if they knew for sure.