3/2 conquers JWTC

7 May 2002 | Lance Cpl. Matthew Orr

Marines must be ready to fight in every clime and place. In an effort to maintain this combat readiness, Leathernecks from 3d Battalion, 2d Marines attended the Jungle Warfare Training Center here recently at Camp Gonsalves.The six-day package taught the Marines the basics of what they needed to do if placed in a jungle and how to survive.3/2 Marines were taught to tie various knots, made rope bridges to cross fast flowing streams safely, participated in land navigation exercises during the day and night and rappelled from a 65-foot cliff.They also patrolled in rough terrain, were taught to test for poisonous plants, underwent "Survival Night" and participated in the endurance course. "Survival Night" incorporated a night in the jungle for a Marine squad. They had nothing but the clothes they wore and a chicken for breakfast amongst them. Other than that, the Marines built their own shelters, found food and built a fire without the use of matches. During the final exercise, the Marines endured a 3.4-mile endurance course."The course incorporates 36 obstacles for the Marines to overcome," said Thomas R. Johnson, a rough terrain section leader with Delta Company, 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance. "The hardest part for the Marines is the stretcher carry exercise which is three-quarters of a mile long."The stretcher carry winds its way along a narrow course. It is slippery and treacherous, he explained. Each team carries their heaviest member for the course's duration and up two hills. These hills are also slippery and steep, he said."The endurance course tests your endurance and mental fortitude. It also helps to build unit cohesion and teamwork amongst the teams," said Johnson."It's challenging in so many different ways, so it's great training for us," said Cpl. Bobby J. Stafford, a Weapons Platoon machine gun section leader. The Carthage, Mo., native emphasized the great unit teamwork developed on the endurance course.The Jungle Warfare Training Center teaches not only Marines, but also U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and other worldwide military units."We train other countries and services such as the Japanese and the Republic of Korea," said Johnson.According to the official JWTC brochure, the center has operated and trained Marines since 1958 for operations and combat missions around the world. It offers 20,000 acres of rugged mountainous terrain with thick jungles dispersed throughout, and can facilitate and accommodate 1,000 personnel for 30 days.With 3/2's Unit Deployment Program in Okinawa coming to a close, their time training in Okinawa has been well spent, according to Weapons Company's Gunnery Sgt. Guy H. Simmons."As a UDP battalion, you have to be ready for every environment - from the hot jungles here in Okinawa, to the cold mountainous terrain," he said. "Training here in Okinawa prepares us for fighting in jungles like those in the Philippines and South West Asia. It's a great benefit to be able to come over here to Okinawa and be able to train for an extended period of time like this."