SATTAHIP, CHONBURI PROVINCE, Thailand — Sunlight peeks though the tree tops as a team of Marines make their way through a dense and humid jungle. The last of their rations and water are all gone and there is no opportunity for resupply for several days. Thirst and hunger start to kick in. The mission still needs to continue and it will, because these Marines have had jungle survival training.
Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines acquired jungle survival training from Royal Thai Marines Feb. 19, 2018, in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand.
“Today we’re teaching jungle survival to U.S. and Korea’s reconnaissance Marines,” said Royal Thai Marine Corps Master Sgt. Pairoj Prasansai, a jungle survival training instructor. “Survival is an important skill for all troops to learn, especially troops who may only have experience in urban combat but not in jungle survival.”
The class taught Marines basic skills to help them survive and thrive in a hot, dangerous environment.
“The course curriculum teaches troops how to find water sources, start fires, the differences in edible and non-edible vegetation and finding vines suitable for consumption and hydrating.” Prasansai added. “They also learn about dangerous animals and insects both venomous and non-venomous that are native to Thailand and are suitable to eat.”
Reconnaissance Marines gather vital intelligence and relay information up to command and control centers enabling leaders to act and react to changes in the battlefield. Often times sending them deep into enemy territory with limited back up.
“We fight at any time and place,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Stephen South, a 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, reconnaissance Marine from Goodyear, Ariz. “This training can be used during recon if we find ourselves far away from support options. Knowing what we can and can’t eat is very beneficial.”
Marines were given the opportunity to try some of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, insects and animals that can be found in the jungle and were shown how to safely capture, handle and consume both venomous and non-venomous snakes.
“In the wilderness you can drink the blood of a snake to stay hydrated,” Prasansai told Marines while handling a cobra. “Snakes can provide you with both the food and water you need to survive.”
After preparing the snake, students were given the opportunity to drink the cobra’s blood.
“It tastes like blood with a hint of fish,” U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Fiffie, a 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, reconnaissance Marine said with a motivated grimace.
Many students enjoyed the new experience and gained valuable knowledge to help them in the field.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and I didn’t know you could eat most of those plants,” said U.S. Marine Corps. Sgt. William Singleton, a 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, reconnaissance Marine from Franklin Ga. “Seeing the different animals that you can eat is pretty mind blowing. It will help us recognize [edible food sources] easier in the wilderness.”
With new skills learned, Marines from the Republic of Korea and the U.S. are now better prepared for when they enter the jungle.