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31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

The only continuously forward-deployed MEU

Okinawa, Japan
31st MEU learns jungle tricks from Thais

By Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood | 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit | February 20, 2013

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Marines and Sailors with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, await instruction during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as part of Cobra Gold 2013, here Feb. 20. The class detailed ways to find direction in the jungle, how to identify edible plants and animals, and how to prepare food fit to eat. Cobra Gold 2013 demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Marines and Sailors with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, await instruction during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as part of Cobra Gold 2013, here Feb. 20. The class detailed ways to find direction in the jungle, how to identify edible plants and animals, and how to prepare food fit to eat. Cobra Gold 2013 demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Katelyn Hunter)


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Lance Cpl. Katelyn M. Hunter, a combat photographer with the command element, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a native of Arcadia, Fla., handles a king cobra snake under the supervision of a Royal Thai Marine during a jungle survival class as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lance Cpl. Katelyn M. Hunter, a combat photographer with the command element, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a native of Arcadia, Fla., handles a king cobra snake under the supervision of a Royal Thai Marine during a jungle survival class as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood)


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Chief Petty Officer First Class Veing Pimsorn, a Thai reconnaissance Marine, uses his teeth to demonstrate how to skin a coconut during a jungle survival class taught to Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. The class detailed ways to find direction in the jungle, how to identify edible plants and animals, and how to prepare food fit to eat.  Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chief Petty Officer First Class Veing Pimsorn, a Thai reconnaissance Marine, uses his teeth to demonstrate how to skin a coconut during a jungle survival class taught to Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. The class detailed ways to find direction in the jungle, how to identify edible plants and animals, and how to prepare food fit to eat. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Katelyn Hunter)


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A bamboo chute, housing cooked insects, is passed around for the Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. The class detailed ways to find direction in the jungle, how to identify edible plants and animals, and how to prepare food fit to eat.  Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

A bamboo chute, housing cooked insects, is passed around for the Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. The class detailed ways to find direction in the jungle, how to identify edible plants and animals, and how to prepare food fit to eat. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Katelyn Hunter)


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A Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit drinks the blood of a king cobra during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Drinking cobra blood is a survival technique used to maintain hydration and replenish nutrients while in the hot jungle. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

A Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit drinks the blood of a king cobra during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Drinking cobra blood is a survival technique used to maintain hydration and replenish nutrients while in the hot jungle. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Katelyn Hunter)


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Staff Sgt. Christopher Roundtree, the platoon sergeant of the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, eats a cooked worm during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Roundtree, the platoon sergeant of the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, eats a cooked worm during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood)


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Lance Cpl. Eric M. Bullard, a rifleman with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a native of Anaheim, Calif., squeezes the liquid out of a native fruit of the Thai jungle during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lance Cpl. Eric M. Bullard, a rifleman with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and a native of Anaheim, Calif., squeezes the liquid out of a native fruit of the Thai jungle during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Codey Underwood)


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HAT YAO, Kingdom of Thailand -- Surrounded by thick jungle as far as the eye can see, a Marine separated from his unit must come to the realization that survival requires effort. Finding food, water and shelter is the difference between life and death. From the leaves on the trees to the bugs crawling across the ground, anything in the vicinity can either harm or help.

Royal Thai Marines instructed their U.S. counterparts from the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, on jungle survival techniques during a class as part of exercise Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20.

In the 32nd iteration of exercise Cobra Gold, a multilateral training event where numerous countries in the Asia-Pacific region work side-by-side, the jungle survival portion placed the Royal Thai Marines in the definitive role of instructor while the MEU Marines were the pupils.

“This is the Thai’s home, it is the environment they were raised in,” said Sgt. Robert Dominguez, a squad leader with the MRF Platoon, 31st MEU, and a native of Selma, Calif. “Most of the Marines here are accustomed to the desert environment with hardly any knowledge on how to live off of the jungle.”

Chief Petty Officer First Class Veing Pimsorn, a Royal Thai reconnaissance Marine, provided lessons in obtaining shelter and water, identifying edible plants and fruits found in the Thai jungles, and how to properly prepare and eat each item.

The attentive class, of about 90 students, was able to sample the various delicacies of the jungle as the training progressed. The group passed around various leaves and roots, exotic fruit, and fried insects to experience the flavors of the jungle.

The Royal Thai Marine instructor also trained the troops in the capture, handling, preparation and ingestion of a king cobra snake. The training involved a handling demonstration with three snakes, practical application by the MRF, followed by killing and preparing the snakes.  Marines had the opportunity to voluntarily drink the nutritionally-packed cobra blood. 

“Drinking the blood of the king cobra is a survival technique used to maintain hydration deep in the jungle,” said Pimsorn. “With all of these techniques combined, an isolated U.S. or Thai Marine could survive off the jungle.”

The training ended with U.S. and Thai Marines sharing a bounty of fruit, insects and snake under a crop of trees. Although a fun experience for all, the real gain for the MRF was familiarity with another region of the world.

“They know the jungle a lot better than we do,” said Sgt. Robert A. Cole, a squad leader with the MRF, 31st MEU, and a native of Klamath Falls, Oreg. “This training will broaden our horizons, so we can fight anywhere.”

Cobra Gold 2013 demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.