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A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor prepares a Marine for swimming about 15 feet underwater with the aid of a rope.
A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor prepares a Marine for swimming about 15 feet underwater with the aid of a rope. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor prepares a Marine for swimming about 15 feet underwater with the aid of a rope.
A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor prepares a Marine for swimming about 15 feet underwater with the aid of a rope. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Troops struggle to navigate through the barbed wire that is strung just above the water's surface. The Marines' uniforms and rifles are easily snagged on the wire, so they navigate the water obstacles on their backs.
Troops struggle to navigate through the barbed wire that is strung just above the water's surface. The Marines' uniforms and rifles are easily snagged on the wire, so they navigate the water obstacles on their backs. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Lance Cpl. Matthew Ito, 20, swims under the barbed wire Thursday at the Jungle Warfare Center on Okinawa.
Lance Cpl. Matthew Ito, 20, swims under the barbed wire Thursday at the Jungle Warfare Center on Okinawa. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
A Marine drags another underneath a Plexiglas obstacle. If the Plexiglas falls, all the Marines on the team must do the water obstacle again.
A Marine drags another underneath a Plexiglas obstacle. If the Plexiglas falls, all the Marines on the team must do the water obstacle again. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
A Marine gets tangled in concertina wire stretched just above the water's surface in a water obstacle on the endurance course. Troops are told to navigate the obstacles on their back and use their rifles to push the wire up and then swim underneath.
A Marine gets tangled in concertina wire stretched just above the water's surface in a water obstacle on the endurance course. Troops are told to navigate the obstacles on their back and use their rifles to push the wire up and then swim underneath. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Jungle Warfare Training Center instructors position themselves around the water obstacle and yell directions as troops complete a water obstacle on the endurance course.
Jungle Warfare Training Center instructors position themselves around the water obstacle and yell directions as troops complete a water obstacle on the endurance course. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Water is a common element on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center at the Northern Training Area on Okinawa. The course takes more than four hours to complete.
Water is a common element on the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center at the Northern Training Area on Okinawa. The course takes more than four hours to complete. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Marines wade through chest-deep water during the endurance course Thursday at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Okinawa. Each week an average of 80 Marines will complete the course, which is the culmination of weeklong training in jungle warfare.
Marines wade through chest-deep water during the endurance course Thursday at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Okinawa. Each week an average of 80 Marines will complete the course, which is the culmination of weeklong training in jungle warfare. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor looks on as Marines cross a ravine on a heavy gauge wire. The Marines are secured to the wire in case they fall. If they fall, the instructor will slide over via a pulley and attach a rope to the  Marine. Troops from the fallen Marine's team will then pull their teammate to the other side.
A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor looks on as Marines cross a ravine on a heavy gauge wire. The Marines are secured to the wire in case they fall. If they fall, the instructor will slide over via a pulley and attach a rope to the Marine. Troops from the fallen Marine's team will then pull their teammate to the other side. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
A Marine struggles against the force of gravity at the Jungle Warfare Training Center.
A Marine struggles against the force of gravity at the Jungle Warfare Training Center. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
A Marine shimmies along heavy gauge wire stretching above a ravine. A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor (seated) encourages him not to give up.
A Marine shimmies along heavy gauge wire stretching above a ravine. A Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor (seated) encourages him not to give up. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Marines carry a simulated casualty on a stretcher they made from sapling trees and their utility blouses. The Marines had to carry the stretcher along the muddy, slippery trail and were not allowed to put it down.  The casualty is a Marine chosen by a Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor and is generally one of the heaviest on the team.
Marines carry a simulated casualty on a stretcher they made from sapling trees and their utility blouses. The Marines had to carry the stretcher along the muddy, slippery trail and were not allowed to put it down. The casualty is a Marine chosen by a Jungle Warfare Training Center instructor and is generally one of the heaviest on the team. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Affectionately called peanut butter, the mud is so thick troops become easily stuck in it. The Marines are not allowed to drop the stretcher carrying a simulated casualty and must push on through the thick mud.
Affectionately called peanut butter, the mud is so thick troops become easily stuck in it. The Marines are not allowed to drop the stretcher carrying a simulated casualty and must push on through the thick mud. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Pfc. Chelsea Ott pushes through the thick mud during the latter part of the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Okinawa.
Pfc. Chelsea Ott pushes through the thick mud during the latter part of the endurance course at the Jungle Warfare Training Center on Okinawa. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)
Marines form a 'railroad track' up a steep incline to make it easier to get their simulated casualty up the slippery hill. The steep trail stretches straight up the hill and is riddled with tree roots.
Marines form a 'railroad track' up a steep incline to make it easier to get their simulated casualty up the slippery hill. The steep trail stretches straight up the hill and is riddled with tree roots. (Matt Orr/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP GONSALVES, Okinawa — Mentally and physically exhausted, the Marines cursed themselves, each other and the thick mud that made it practically impossible for them to move.

“Don’t stop! Keep moving! If you stop you will sink!” yelled the instructor as the team — carrying on their shoulders a simulated casualty on a makeshift stretcher — struggled in the waist-deep “peanut butter.”

It was a scene carried out throughout the day Thursday as troops from 3rd Marine Logistics Group wrapped up their weeklong jungle skills training on a grueling endurance course at the Northern Training Area.

“Every Marine is a rifleman, but non-infantry units still need to come out and get their basic infantry skills,” 1st Lt. Jeremiah Golden, operations officer and acting executive officer for the Jungle Warfare Training Center, said as troops made their way through the course.

During the week of training, Marines brush up on land navigation, first aid, booby traps and a variety of other infantry skills.

But it’s the endurance course — which officials say takes on average more that four hours to complete — that can challenge the best.

Running through streams, traversing ravines, swimming through nasty-smelling water holes and constantly moving from obstacle to obstacle.

“It was really challenging and required everyone to work as a team,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew Ito, 20, after being hosed down by an instructor with a fire hose.

The Marines, glad it was over, joked among themselves and congratulated each other.

“I loved it,” said 22-year-old Pfc. Chelsea Ott, the yellow mud still caked to her face in places. “It was really difficult and worth it, but I am really glad it is over.”

orrm@pstripes.osd.mil

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