Story and photos by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey, NMCB 3 Seabees from NMCB 3 carry a mock casualty on an improvised stretcher through a tiny crevice while running a six-hour endurance course at the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC).
Deep in Okinawa, Japan’s, Northern Training Area – 17,500 acres of dense jungle occupied by poisonous spiders and three species of venomous snakes – 63 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 woke to barking Marine Corps instructors, motivating them through the final stage of their eight-day training at the Jungle Warfare Training Center, Sept. 22.
The 3.8-mile jungle endurance course cemented each block of practical instruction by splitting the group into 12-18 person squads to see which team could defeat the course’s 31 obstacles in the shortest time.
CMCN3 Robert Cardona fights through waist-high mud and water while running a six-hour endurance course at the Marine Corps’ Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC).
“They did a really great job,” said JWTC instructor Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin Davis. “The endurance course requires a lot of ground work; tons of running and communication. They worked together well and none of them got heated, which was impressive. They all kept a level head.”
During the previous seven days, students learned combat tactics, first aid, jungle survival, rappelling, overcoming booby traps and land navigation. All 63 Seabees slept in tents through turbulent rain and stifling humidity, further strengthening the group as a team.
CMCN3 Denim Pettit lets a fellow squad member push off his arm while running a six-hour endurance course at the Marine Corps’ Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC).
“Being in the elements the whole time gave me some real perspective on how our forefathers fought during past wars,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Cale Vandertuin. “That’s all I could think about. I curled up with my legs crossed and ate my meals in the rain for only a few days; they did it for months in real combat. It made me very appreciative of their service.”
Applying these lessons directly impacted how well the teams performed. With each person representing a pressure point, victory equated to no one breaking under the jungle stress. When challenges bore down, the team shared the weight.
CMCN Cory Young gasps for air after completing an underwater obstacle at the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC).
“The stretcher hauling was the most difficult,” said Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Jorge Reyes. “It tested all of our patience, because each step was teamwork; when one moved, we all moved.”
During the obstacle, squads built improvised stretchers using uniform tops, sticks and belts. The teams strapped a member on the stretcher and carried them through neck high mud water, through ravines that pinned them on top of each other and while dodging very real aspects of a living jungle.
“THE SNAKES WERE NO JOKE…BIG SPIDERS THE SIZE OF MY HAND. THERE WAS NOTHING SIMULATED DURING THIS TRAINING.”
“The snakes were no joke,” said Reyes. “The instructors would see them, shout them out and help us, but we still got a guy on our backs relying on us to keep him safe. Big spiders the size of my hand. There was nothing simulated during this training. It was amazing and the instructors were the real deal.”
The training received at JWTC is the only Department of Defense jungle training facility in existence. They provide expert instruction that builds upon small unit leadership, embracing a tactical mindset and confidence.
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 carry a mock casualty on an improvised stretcher through shoulder-high mud water while running a six-hour endurance course at the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC).
The training environment is realistic and matches that found across the Pacific region, helping sustain NMCB 3‚Äôs overall readiness as the only forward-deployed Pacific construction battalion ready to provide conventional combat, counterinsurgency and irregular warfare capabilities.
Thanks, in part, to the Marine Corps-led JWTC training, NMCB 3 is able to perform critical construction projects in remote island areas such as Timor-Leste, Tonga, Cambodia and the Philippines. NMCB 3 details are also conducting operations in Atsugi, Yokosuka and Okinawa, Japan, Chinhae, Republic of Korea and China Lake, Calif.
UTCN2 Raymond Luckett coasts inches above the water as a member of his squad uses her boot to keep Constantine wire away from his face during a six-hour endurance course at the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC).