Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Sharpe, 22, from Mobile, Ala., walks along a river during jungle training in Indonesia Oct. 19. Sharpe and other Marines with Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, learned jungle survival from Indonesian Marines during an exercise there.

Photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

Marines in jungle spring booby traps, drink snake blood

22 Oct 2009 | Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

A company of U.S. Marines ate jungle snakes and built booby traps during survival training with Indonesian military hosts here Oct. 19-22.

Company G, part of Battalion Landing Team 2/4, the ground-combat element of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, hiked along and through rivers to their training area.

The Marines, participating in their first exercise since deploying Sept. 18 from San Diego to the Western Pacific, endured humid jungle temperatures.

“I had over five liters of water and it was gone by the time we got done with the hump,” said Lance Cpl. Shane P. Hall, 19, from Delaware, Ohio. “It felt like I just got out of a pool. Everything I had on was soaked from the sweat.”

The hike halted and members of Indonesia’s Korps Marinir gave a demonstration of the jungle’s flora and fauna – some edible and some poisonous.

One Indonesian volunteered his arm to show the effects of a skin-irritating plant.

“I thought that guy was crazy to put the poison on his arm just to show us what happens,” said Cpl. Joshua E. Dreisbach, 21, from Milton, Penn.

The Indonesians also taught best practices for draining blood from cobras, minding the venom.

“I drank cobra blood,” said Sgt. Stephen E. Clemons, from Radcliff, Ky. “Eating a bunch of deadly snakes seems like something that would give you the warrior spirit.”

More reptiles were set loose for the Americans to catch and slaughter.

“At first, everyone was saying they were going to catch the python, but once it was on the ground, everyone was hesitant and backed off,” said Lance Cpl. Jaime Pilia, 20, from Chicago. “By the time I decided I was going to catch it, I already had the snake in my hand.”

The Marines gathered around a campfire and cooked monitor lizard and cobra meat on sticks.

A booby trap demonstration followed, and the Americans learned unconventional ways to stop or harass enemy patrols.

Using trip wire, bamboo, sticks, and vines, the Indonesians demonstrated traps such as a spiked cage hanging from a tree.

Most traps had pressured key devices triggered by footsteps. Other traps were rigged with small-arms weapons set to fire when triggered.

Marines made several of their own traps using swinging logs or spring-taut bamboo with sharpened spikes. One incorporated a machine gun while another used a grenade launcher.

“Sometimes the training can get regimented. This allowed Marines to put their own personalities into things,” said 1st Sgt. Michael E. Lilly, Company G first sergeant. “Freeform training allows for freeform results.”

The Indonesians judged the Americans’ traps and chose a favorite, which involved two devices being released by the same trigger wire.


Marine Corps News

Colonel Jim W. Lively
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Colonel Lively is a native of Dallas, Texas. He received his commission in 1996 through the Platoon Leaders Course program after graduating from Texas A&M University with a BA in Psychology.

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Lieutenant Col. Le E. Nolan
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Lieutenant Colonel Nolan is a 2001 graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his commission through Officer Candidate Class 180. After completing flight training as a CH-53E pilot, he reported to HMH-361 in MCAS Miramar.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.

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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit