TERNATE, Republic of the Philippines --
Encased by dense jungle with the sound of crashing waves on a nearby beach providing the soundtrack, seasoned survival experts demonstrated techniques in surviving the unforgiving green maze to U.S. Marines.
Marines and Sailors with Company B., 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, learned jungle survival skills from Philippine reconnaissance Marines here, April 12.
The jungle survival course, taught by eight experienced Philippine reconnaissance instructors, demonstrated time-tested techniques in taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the Philippine jungle. A group of more than 80 Marines stepped into the jungle and hiked to a small clearing where they found a large fire surrounded by thick overhanging trees.
After the Marines were given a tour of the camp site, they were shown how to craft and set traps. The traps, made from plants and trees native to the area, are designed to catch lizards, squirrels and chickens. The instructors also explained and demonstrated how to create hand-made survival tools from local vegetation.
“The course was really an eye-opener to see how resourceful (the Filipinos) were just using the vegetation and what grew around the area,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Chris J. Eves, a mortarman with Company B., BLT 1/5, 31st MEU, and a native of Brisbane, Australia. “It is great working with these Philippine Marines, training and building closer ties.”
The troops were shown how to kindle fire using bamboo, open and drink from coconuts, and cook snake and rice over a fire. The instructors made enough food for everyone, allowing the diverse group to enjoy a warm meal cooked in the jungle. The meal served as a light-hearted preview of survival in the jungle, which is valuable knowledge for the Marine Corps’ force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific region.
“The knowledge of how to survive in the jungle is priceless when it comes time for you to need it,” said Philippine Marine Staff Sgt. Calixton Deatras, the armory noncommissioned officer in charge for the Force Reconnaissance Battalion, Philippine Marine Corps, and a native of Iloilo City. “If these Marines find themselves in a jungle, they will realize, in order to survive, their knowledge is more important than their strength.”
The 31st MEU conducted the 29th iteration of exercise Balikatan to enhance interoperability and strengthen the long-standing relationship with the Philippine and U.S. militaries. The MEU personnel appreciated the value of learning jungle skills from the men who operate within it daily.
“Knowing how to survive in the jungle is priceless when everything goes wrong, you’re separated from your unit and you run out of supplies,” said Marine Cpl. Noah D. Southworth, an infantry team leader with Company B. and a native of Dubuque, Iowa. “There is nowhere better to learn jungle survival than being here and taught by the experts themselves.”