“The will to survive will always outdo the skills to survive,” said E.J. “Skullcrusher” Snyder, Fort Mckellan, Ala. survivalist instructor and Army retiree. “Skills are great, but you’ve got to the have the will to go with them or you will die.”
That mantra has served Snyder well in his life after the military. After multiple failed attempts at landing spots on “Survivor” and a few other reality shows, Snyder landed spots on two reality shows — “72 hours” and “Naked and Afraid.” Both shows matched
“When I was getting out of the military I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,“ said Snyder. “There weren’t a lot of jobs in the help wanted section for a former terrorist hunter. When I got the call from ‘Naked and Afraid’ I thought well, if I was going to call myself a survivalist this was the ultimate survival challenge.”
“72 Hours,” is a game-survival, reality show which aired Friday on TNT. Snyder led his team against two other teams to find a hidden suitcase that contained $100,000. The first team to find its way through the Fijian jungle within 72 hours wins it.
On the Discovery channel’s “Naked and Afraid,” which premiered July 7, Snyder partnered with Kellie Nightlinger, an Alaskan adventure guide. Both were just like the show’s title suggests, naked, afraid and facing the challenge of surviving 21 days on the plains of Tanzania.
Participants were allowed to bring only one tool with them to aid them in their survival.
“I chose to bring my knife,” said Snyder. “I knew it would be the most useful tool for me out there.”
The effort to survive isn’t just about finding food, shelter and water; participants have to work together to accomplish the common goal of survival.
“My partner and I both had different ways we wanted to get things done,” said Snyder. “She was more of a free spirit, where as I was more of a get-things-done type of person.”
During the 21 days Snyder, said he lost 50 pounds.
“It was rough not only because we were facing the elements and the wildlife, but the terrain was tearing our feet up,” said Snyder, who served in the Army for 25 years.
Temperatures in Tanzania during the day were in 90s and at night dropped to 40 degrees.
A thorn embedded in Snyder’s foot almost ended his chances at completing the challenge. It had to be removed after directors grew concerned and took Snyder to a doctor to have the thorn cut out of his foot and given antibiotics.
At risk of losing his leg or life to infection, Snyder continued and saw the challenge to completion.
“There wasn’t a reward for completing this,” said Snyder. “I did it because I wanted to represent the Army well and I want to bring more attention to the Wounded Warriors Project. I hope that being out here gives other people the feeling that they can complete anything they work at too.”