BALURAN, Indonesia --
Company G and Indonesia’s Korps Marinir shared fighting skills and tactics in Baluran, Indonesia, Oct. 16-22 during the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s first exercise since deploying from San Diego Sept. 18.
The company’s tracked armored assault vehicles disembarked USS Rushmore floating in the Western Pacific and landed on the shores of this Java island city.
The first three days ashore, the Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2/4, pushed through language barriers and taught various skills such as searching vehicles, patrolling, and weapons-handling drills.
“If we use our hands and point things out, they’ll understand. It’s like the universal language of hand signs,” said Sgt. Eugene R. Hockhalter of Harlem, Mont. “Everything we throw at them they learn.”
Americans paired with their host counterparts and followed martial-arts instructions by an Indonesian man wearing traditional red and yellow garments.
In return, Marines with 2nd Platoon introduced grappling techniques. Some of the men wrestled two Indonesians at a time.
When practicing combined arms on a live-fire range, the Marines maneuvered through farmland.
“We’re walking through crops. Back home you just don’t get to do that,” said Lance Cpl. Hudson D. Bradley, from Parris, Tenn. “It felt like something you’d see in a Vietnam movie.”
Staff Sgt. Joey T. Soltis, from Bosey, Mont., said everything went exactly as planned: “It shows how serious our guys took it because they haven’t done one of these since March or April.”
In the jungle, the Americans killed, cooked and ate snakes, including a python and two cobras.
Indonesians taught Americans how to fight in the jungle, which included setting booby traps with little more than bamboo and vines.
“We’ve been shown just little snare traps before. These guys showed us how to kill a man with a trap,” said Cpl. Ryan C. Kalousek, from Imboden, Ark. “It was really outside our tactics.”
As the exercise winded down, locals waved and smiled, and children ran alongside the Americans riding through towns, back to the tracked assault vehicles they rode to shore.
“It was pretty cool to see the locals happy to have us pass by. It’s probably the biggest reminder that we’re in a foreign country” said Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Sharpe, from Mobile, Ala.