Corporals conquer jungle, gain leadership skills

Base Info
Cpl. Wilkins Vidal crosses the monkey crawl obstacle of the endurance course March 21 at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves during the Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler corporals’ course. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Donald T. Peterson)
Cpl. Wilkins Vidal crosses the monkey crawl obstacle of the endurance course March 21 at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves during the Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler corporals’ course. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Donald T. Peterson)

Corporals conquer jungle, gain leadership skills

by: Lance Cpl. Donald T. Peterson, Marine Corps Installations Pacific | .
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published: March 30, 2013

JUNGLE WARFARE TRAINING CENTER -- Marines crawled through the flooded trench, sliding through cold, muddy water while keeping a low profile to avoid detection and maintaining a focus on developing leadership in a setting far different from the classroom they frequented the week before.

Marines of the Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler corporals’ course completed the basic jungle survival skills course March 13-21 at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves.

“This is the first time I know of that (our) corporals’ course has gone through the full basic course at JWTC,” said Master Sgt. Fred J. Suniga Jr., the operations chief for H&S Bn., MCB Camp Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

The course consists of classroom instruction and practical application of skills such as land navigation, jungle survival and rappelling, and concludes with an endurance course designed to challenge the Marines’ mental and physical strength, as well as their ability to work as a team.

“The endurance course is demanding mentally and physically,” said Cpl. Brian M. Ashworth, an instructor at JWTC. “It consists of natural obstacles, such as hills and creeks, as well as man-made (obstacles) like the monkey crawl, which is a rope that is suspended above a body of water that they must cross.”

Among the obstacles, some of the most challenging to overcome are the natural ones created by the jungle, according Cpl. Wilkins Vidal, the training noncommissioned officer for Company B, H&S Bn.

“When you’re in the jungle, you can’t see more than 10 to 15 meters in front of you at a time,” said Vidal. “Between the lack of the visibility and the hills and creeks we had to traverse, the course was extremely demanding physically.”

Along with challenging the Marines physically and mentally, the endurance course offered the Marines an opportunity to work on their small unit leadership and teamwork.

“One of the things I’ve gained from this training is the importance of working together,” said Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Sgt. Yuichi Kato, an infantryman with the JGSDF and a student in the corporals’ course. “The way the Marines and I worked together to overcome the obstacles showed me that if you take the time to talk about a problem, you can overcome any obstacle.”

The Marines completed the basic jungle skills course better equipped for the challenges ahead as noncommissioned officers.

“It’s not every day that you get an opportunity to partake in a course like the one offered by JWTC,” said Vidal. “With all that I have learned, I feel confident in my abilities and those of my fellow Marines.”