Sunlight peeks through the treetops as the Marines make their way through a dense and humid jungle.
Rations and water have been consumed — there is no opportunity for resupply for several days. The Marines are hungry and thirsty.
Yet, the Marines will continue on with their mission because they've had jungle survival training.
American and South Korean Marines were taught jungle survival skills by members of Thailand's Marines here, Feb. 19, 2018.
Learning survival skills
South Korea Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Choelryoong Wyang holds a scorpion while U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Alan Bounyasith, left, a 3rd Marine Division, reconnaissance Marine from Marietta, Ga., and Marine Corps Sgt. Leo Briseno, a 3rd Marine Division reconnaissance Marine from Corpus Christi, Texas, prepare to eat a scorpion during jungle survival training in Sattahip, Thailand, Feb. 19, 2018. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)
"Today we're teaching jungle survival to U.S. and [South] Korea's reconnaissance Marines," said Royal Thai Marine Corps Master Sgt. Pairoj Prasansai, a jungle survival training instructor. "Survival is an important skill for all troops to learn, especially troops who may only have experience in urban combat but not in jungle survival."
The class taught Marines basic skills to help them survive and thrive in a hot, dangerous environment.
"The course curriculum teaches troops how to find water sources, start fires, the differences in edible and nonedible vegetation, and finding vines suitable for consumption and hydrating." Prasansai said. "They also learn about dangerous animals and insects — both venomous and nonvenomous — that are native to Thailand and are suitable to eat."
Reconnaissance Marines gather vital intelligence and relay information up to command-and-control centers, enabling leaders to act and react to changes in the battlefield. Recon troops operate deep into enemy territory with limited backup.
Royal Thai Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Chaiwat Lodsin, a jungle survival training instructor from Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand, peels the skin off of a cobra during jungle survival training Feb. 19, 2018, in Sattahip, Chonburi province, Thailand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)
"We fight at any time and place," said Marine Corps Sgt. Stephen South, who hails from Goodyear, Arizona, and is assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. "This training can be used during recon if we find ourselves far away from support options. Knowing what we can and can't eat is very beneficial."
Marines were given the opportunity to try some of the fruits, vegetables, herbs, insects, and animals that can be found in the jungle, and were shown how to safely capture, handle, and consume both venomous and nonvenomous snakes.
Drinking cobra blood
Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Fiffie, who's assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, drinks cobra blood during jungle survival training in Sattahip, Thailand, Feb. 19, 2018. The training was conducted as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2018. Snake blood can be consumed to keep an individual hydrated while the meat can be used as a source of nutrition. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)
"In the wilderness, you can drink the blood of a snake to stay hydrated," Prasansai told the Marines as he picked up a cobra. "Snakes can provide you with both the food and water you need to survive."
After preparing the snake, students were given the opportunity to drink the cobra's blood.
"It tastes like blood with a hint of fish," Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Fiffie, a 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, said.
Many students enjoyed the new experience and gained valuable knowledge to help them in the field.
"I've never done anything like this before, and I didn't know you could eat most of those plants," said Marine Corps Sgt. William Singleton, who hails from Franklin, Georgia, and is assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.
"Seeing the different animals that you can eat is pretty mind-blowing. It will help us recognize [edible food sources] easier in the wilderness," Singleton added.