Corpsmen, airmen embrace jungle to learn medical techniques
CAMP GONSALVES, OKINAWA, Japan -- The sun is high in the sky, but the jungle is dark with shadows of thick vines and trees as corpsmen and airmen trudge down hills and through streams. Sweat runs down their brows as they navigate to the next meeting area with medical bags containing supplies needed to save their fellow service members from potential environmental threats.
Corpsmen and airmen completed the Combat Endurance Course July 20 during the Jungle Medicine Combat Course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves.
The corpsmen are with U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa and various units of III Marine Expeditionary Force, to include 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and 1st Bn., 8th Marine Regiment, which is currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment under the unit deployment program, both with 3rd Marine Division, III MEF,; 3rd Medical Bn. and 3rd Dental Bn., both with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF; and 7th Communications Bn., III MEF Headquarters Group, III MEF.
The airmen are with 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 18th Operations Group, 18th Wing.
The course gave the service members a realistic experience of jungle combat. They slept in tents, survived off of Meals, Ready-To-Eat, and took “field showers.”
“It’s a difficult and challenging time, but it really brings out the camaraderie amongst your team,” said Seaman Benjamin Rodriguez, an El Paso, Texas, native and corpsman with 1st Bn., 8th Marines. “Sometimes you find yourself in situations where you don’t think it can get any worse, but by keeping each other positive and motivated, you find that you can overcome any difficult situation that stands in your way.”
The jungle medical course equipped the service members that participated with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform medical procedures in a field environment.
“It’s been good gaining experience on life in a jungle environment,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Brennan Ross, a Plano, Texas, native and corpsman with 3rd Med. Bn., 3rd MLG, III MEF. “A lot of the course is review (of) combat medical skills. We learn more on how to operate with Marines, like when we went patrolling in the jungle and rappelling off the cliff.”
The culminating event of the Jungle Medicine Combat Course was the Combat Endurance Course, which service members were required to complete to graduate.
“The endurance course is an obstacle course that we conduct on the very last day,” said Sgt. Caleb Maclagan, an instructor at JWTC and infantryman with 1st Bn., 8th Marines, currently assigned to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF, under the UDP. “It is a four-mile course with 32 obstacles ranging from various difficulties.”
Service members in the course were separated into two squads that began the course 45 minutes apart. It took both squads approximately four hours to complete all obstacles in the course.
The service members were required to tie knots to safely rappel down steep hills in the jungle, swim through tunnels, use team-building tactics to climb over walls and evacuate simulated casualties to safety.
“We are preparing them for real combat situations that they might later face,” said Maclagan, a Rehoboth, Massachusetts, native. “The most important aspect is teamwork and the endurance course exercises just that.”