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.

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  1. Went though jungle environmental survival training with 2/9 marines at Subic Bay, PI. In 1970. we never drank snake blood;we only boiled rice in bamboo sections, ate fresh water eel, cray fish,wild pig and chickens. Later in the week we learned to make hand soap out of a species of jungle trees. Semper Fi, and Happy Trails to my Brother and Sister Marines!

  2. Royal Thai Marines are probably still laughing. Snake is good to eat fried, have had a bit myself. Cobra blood, maybe for an induction into something. I’ve lived here for years, married to a Thai lady. I’d bet they had a good joke on farangs and in fun. BTW, RTM are probably the best Thailand has. Talking with other Marines after dual operations they’ve said pretty damn good.

  3. Wish i was part of something like that, it would make me feel like i was a true Marine. Tried like heck to get into combat unit but i guess the command thougth my skills were more suited to making coffee, and running errands for officers! SEMPER FI!

    1. Errolll,Any recruit that graduates boot camp is a true Marine.Why?Because once a Marine,he will not shirk any responsibility given them and do their best in any situation they confront.This is why I credit Marine Corps Drill Instructors.I had an easy time after boot camp but civilian life threw me many a curve ball.I would also ask all Marines to write to the President or Vice President asking for a pardon for Gunny Joe Felix now a Pvt and in Leavenworth.A recruit killed himself because boot camp was to much.The Gunny did not do anything that every drill instructor before him did not do and that is weed out the weak and non hackers.I did not like my Drill Instructors but I would go to attention and salute them if I ever saw them again.

  4. Worked at J.E.S.T. school in the P.I. in 82 and 83 a lot of the same stuff. We worked mostly with Navy pilots from Cubie Point so they could see what it was like on the ground when doing close air support for use. It was only 3 days but after that you could tell they never would take use for granted again.

  5. I ran the medical Clinic at Cubi Pt.I in 83-86. Saw a lot of Marines come and go from Jest training. All of them knew they had learned vital survival skills that could be the difference between life and death in a jungle combat environment. I spent 21 of my 26 years of Naval service with “MY MARINES”. I served with them in the jungles of Vietnam attached to Echo company, Ist Recon Bn at Camp Reasoner. Wish to hell we could have had that training prior to our patrols. Never ate a snake, never will! But ate some fish, after doing some frag grenade fishing. Nothing like the Marines! As a Recon Doc, Ive earned the right to say. SEMPER FI! Doc Toline

    1. Kenneth, you bet your ass you earned the right to say Semper Fi!! I was in Bravo Co., 1st Recon Bn., at Camp Reasoner and you corpsmen did everything us jarheads did – and did it just as well. God Bless the docs that served with us. Semper Fi, brother.

  6. I attended the Australian Jungle Warfare school in Kota Tinggi, Malaysia, 1966, from Delta Co, 1ST Recon Bn, VietNam. Great training, especially with land navigation, knife fighting night warfare. Of course we had a dining menu with lots of ‘fun’ stuff, favorite, tree grubs, termites and ants. Sorry to be jaded, but all Recon Marines should attend a Jungle Warfare School. OOHRah Leathernecks.

  7. Yes, jungle warfare is a dirty, grimy business. I had to teach my Marines how to survive, fight, and rapidly destroy their enemy in seconds. Having grown up taking all types of martial arts helped. Scouting helped some and later a lot (water rationing, food rationing, etc.,). I am glad that Recon Marines are taught all aspect of warfare now. To all Marines , Semper Fi.

  8. I was attached to BLT 1-3 in ’61, When at Subic a group of us were instructed on Jungle survival by Philippine Marines. We knew what to expect so loaded up on Pogy bait and fruit from the Navy mess hall where we had chow. We survived.

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