So Ranger School was where I became introduced to the amazing Dessert-flavored chewing gum, mainly the Lemonsquare and Mint Chocolate Chip flavors. I initially reported to Ranger School with nothing but Bubblelicious gum, since that brand had the most calories per piece and would take up more space in my stomach after I swallowed it. Rookie mistake on my part, as I quickly learned that the whole point of chewing gum in Ranger school was not to stay awake. Its sole purpose was to provide a brief and momentary glimpse of happiness into what was otherwise a truly miserable existence. Unfortunately I did not get to experience this so-called “happiness” until Mountain phase, when a Ranger buddy who felt bad for me loaned me one stick of his Dessert gum. I was instantly hooked.
Thankfully I was in the Christmas exodus class, because I returned from holiday leave for Florida phase with my 70 allotted pieces of nothing but Lemonsquare and Mint Chocolate Chip chewing gum. I even took a 5-day vow of chewing-gum abstinence at the start of the phase so that I would have all 70 pieces available for the 10-day field exercise. That’s some serious dedication.
Anyways, eventually I caved from the wet, sandy, swampy, cold, sleepless misery of the field(so basically on the first day) and enjoyed that gum like it was my only remaining connection with the outside world. And now we are at the whole reason for me writing this…
Prior to the swamps of Florida, I had never had the Mint Chocolate Chip chewing gum. The first piece I had was amazing, and even better was the fact that it had little crunchy parts to it…so every time I had some of it I was always thinking “I can’t believe they found a way to put miniature chocolate chips in this gum!”. I was so impressed with it that I saved that flavor only for during the 3 long walks we did(long walk = 6 to 12 mile forced ruck march from your objective to your patrol base, and this is after you’ve already been walking all day for your mission. Usually half the guys were sleep-walking and droning hardcore). No matter how much my legs and back were killing me during those walks, I could enjoy that fantastic gum with real chocolate chips. I am pretty sure I survived only because of that.
Flash forward to present-day in Afghanistan….
My wife and parents were kind enough to mail me about 10 packages of the Mint Chocolate Chip gum. It was only after chewing my first piece of it here that I made a dreadful discovery….there are no mini chocolate chips in it. In fact, there is nothing remotely crunchy in it. It was only then that I remembered that on the 3rd day of Florida phase(before going to the field), my rucksack had been completely submerged in a swamp and then dragged through the sand. All of my gum had been in the ruck and apparently not as waterproofed as I thought I had made it. My beloved mini chocolate chips in my gum had actually just been sand. Filthy swamp sand that tens of thousands of other Ranger students had previously walked through.
The moral of this long-winded story? Chewing sandy gum is what got me through the last phase of Ranger School. That doesn’t sound very manly at all, but it works for me.