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EODMU 5 Members Participate in Thai Diver Night of PT

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070515-20
Release Date: 5/15/2007 4:06:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class(SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

THUNG PRONG, Kingdom of Thailand (NNS) -- Four U.S. Navy dive specialists and a trio of senior supporters went through a small portion of Royal Thai Navy (RTN) diver physical training (PT) with Thai diving students May 11. The dive specialists are in Thailand to participate in Cobra Gold 2007, a multinational exercise being conducted through May 18.

Navy Diver 2nd Class Josh Amberger, Navy Diver 2nd Class Curtis Fees, Intelligence Specialist 1st Class (DSW/SW) Shannon Blake and Storekeeper 3rd Class Kenneth Wieners, all members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, here to work with the RTN on a number of dive and EOD mission areas, went through seven hours of intense PT alongside students of the RTN diver course.

The training pushed the participants through rigorous athletic training that consisted of running nearly eight miles; swimming 1,000 meters; performing 500 push-ups and sit-ups; and completing various leg raises, flutter kicks, as well as about two hours of log drills, which consist of performing calisthenics with a log.

“It was very challenging. I don’t think you see how far you can push the human body until you put it through that kind of strain,” said Amberger. “Even though it was difficult, none of us thought about giving up; it was a matter of not only earning the respect of the Thais but also not giving up on them.”

Throughout the week of Cobra Gold 2007 training, featuring chamber dives and handling improvised explosive devices among other lessons, the U.S. Navy personnel observed the Thai dive students getting physically trained as part of the Thai dive curriculum.

Physical fitness is a focus of the Thai dive school for about the first month, and, as a culmination aspect of the initial physical training period, there is a 36-hour, no sleep, all-out push. That push is what U.S. Navy divers got a taste of by participating in all seven hours of training with the Thai students.

Leading up to the night of PT, the U.S. military members, who were engaged in their own type of training with already-rated divers and EOD, empathized with the stretched out physical exertion the Thai dive students were requred to complete as part of the school’s regiment.

So when the opportunity presented itself to partake, at least in a segment of it, a handful from the U.S. team volunteered to go through the final portion as a way to boost the spirits of their counterparts.

“We just wanted to show that we support them and also wanted to build camaraderie,” said Blake. “We’re here primarily to train and work closely with their divers and EOD, but this was an opportunity to show that in all aspects of their dive program, we are 100 percent behind them. I think they appreciated us being there.”

Through the exercise-intensive night, the U.S. Navy divers tried to integrate, but not interfere, with the training throughout the night. The four divers stood in single file formation next to the block of students and performed calisthenics on command with their counterparts.

Around 2 a.m., the log drills began. These drills paired each American on a log team and each American was directly tied to their Thai counterparts in making it through this portion.

“I think we reached a point, especially there, where we weren’t just tagging along, but right there with them,” said Wieners. “In the end, I think we earned their respect.”

And equally, the Americans said they had ample respect for their counterparts, who endured the physical intensity until 1 p.m. the next day after starting at about 6 a.m. the previous day.

Master Chief Navy Diver (MDV/DSW/SW) Michael Moser saw the night as a win-win for both forces.

“I think this sort of Thai-U.S. training integration will be a bridge for further integration,” said Moser. “I am proud of my guys and am equally impressed at the endurance of the Thais. It was great to see our divers and the Thais work through language barriers and work together to achieve the evolutions.”

Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan. Cobra Gold 07 is a a regularly scheduled Thai-U.S.-led joint/combined multi-national exercise designed to ensure regional stability and interoperability among participating nations.

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