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Lance Cpl. Joshua Rodriguez, 22, from Fredricksburg, Va., an administrative clerk with Marine Air Control Group 18, pulls himself across a rope bridge Friday at Commando Crawl, one of 31 obstacles on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves. "It was a challenge, but I'm always up for a challenge," said Rodriguez of the experience.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Rodriguez, 22, from Fredricksburg, Va., an administrative clerk with Marine Air Control Group 18, pulls himself across a rope bridge Friday at Commando Crawl, one of 31 obstacles on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves. "It was a challenge, but I'm always up for a challenge," said Rodriguez of the experience. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Lance Cpl. Joshua Rodriguez, 22, from Fredricksburg, Va., an administrative clerk with Marine Air Control Group 18, pulls himself across a rope bridge Friday at Commando Crawl, one of 31 obstacles on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves. "It was a challenge, but I'm always up for a challenge," said Rodriguez of the experience.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Rodriguez, 22, from Fredricksburg, Va., an administrative clerk with Marine Air Control Group 18, pulls himself across a rope bridge Friday at Commando Crawl, one of 31 obstacles on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves. "It was a challenge, but I'm always up for a challenge," said Rodriguez of the experience. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Marines with Marine Air Control Group 18 traverse a partially-submerged culvert and then use a rope to pull them across the deeper open water Friday at an obstacle on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves.

Marines with Marine Air Control Group 18 traverse a partially-submerged culvert and then use a rope to pull them across the deeper open water Friday at an obstacle on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Camp Gonsalves. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Cpl. Erik Reuter, 26, an armory custodian from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Cpl. Saul Solis, 22, a comptroller from Pampa, Texas, both with Marine Air Control Group 18, shout encouragement Friday to other Marines crossing one of the rope bridges on the endurance course.

Cpl. Erik Reuter, 26, an armory custodian from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Cpl. Saul Solis, 22, a comptroller from Pampa, Texas, both with Marine Air Control Group 18, shout encouragement Friday to other Marines crossing one of the rope bridges on the endurance course. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Marines with Marine Air Control Group 18 use teamwork Friday to pull each other over The Wall, one of 31 obstacles on the endurance course. It typically takes a team about six to eight hours to complete the course, although the best time on record was three hours and 45 minutes by a recon team, said Staff Sgt. Brandon Graham, the staff NCO in charge at the center.

Marines with Marine Air Control Group 18 use teamwork Friday to pull each other over The Wall, one of 31 obstacles on the endurance course. It typically takes a team about six to eight hours to complete the course, although the best time on record was three hours and 45 minutes by a recon team, said Staff Sgt. Brandon Graham, the staff NCO in charge at the center. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

CAMP GONSALVES, Okinawa — The Jungle Warfare Training Center at Camp Gonsalves is back in action.

Two months after resuming operations, instructors said Friday that the center is fully up and running, and they are encouraging more units to take advantage of the training.

A large turnover of support personnel and instructors prompted the center to pause operations from January to May, said Staff Sgt. Brandon Graham, 27, from Woodward, Okla., the center’s senior enlisted leader.

“We needed to get the instructors’ skills built up,” Graham said.

At the start of the year, most of the 28 Marines staffing the center were new, said the center’s deputy officer in charge, Capt. Mark George, 31, from Panama City, Fla. — himself a recent staff addition, having arrived in June.

Of the 11 instructors, only three were on staff before December, he said.

During the pause, staff members earned required certifications, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and worked on skills needed to teach in a jungle environment, Graham said.

After working on rappelling, jungle patrolling, search and rescue, tracking and other skills, instructors completed the facility’s courses so “they feel the stresses that students do, so they know what it’s like,” Graham said.

The “bread-and-butter” course taught at the center right now is the bimonthly, five-day Jungle Skills Course for non-infantry Marines, he said. The program teaches teamwork, small-unit tactics and patrolling and culminates with the 31 obstacles of the endurance course.

And it is “some of the best training I’ve ever gotten on island … especially the endurance course,” said Cpl. Erik Reuter, 26, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Reuter, an armory custodian, and about 30 other Marines with Marine Air Control Group 18 were completing their last day at the Jungle Skills Course on Friday.

“It’s long. It’s dirty. It sucks. But it’s great training,” Reuter said.

Do you need a refresher course in survival skills?Any unit interested in a refresher course on jungle survival skills — considered perishable skills that need to be practiced — can schedule training at the Jungle Warfare Training Center, said Staff Sgt. Brandon Graham, the center’s senior enlisted leader.

Graham said most of the several thousand who used the facility last year were Marines, but some Army and Navy units also went through the course.

To arrange training at the center, call DSN 622-2238.

— Cindy Fisher


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