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Combat Operations, Sharks, and Grinds

Mouth_and_gum_damageBy Kerry Patton
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

I remember the first training mission I went on that lasted longer than 48 hours. We were in New Mexico’s desert acting as the opposition force against a team of US Air Force Pararescue searching for a simulated downed pilot. I was tired, cold, and believe it or not, bored.

Anyone who ever served and experienced training missions knows the feelings I endured. Like many military folks, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the only friend I had, a can of Skoal.

I have never been around more guys who dip tobacco then those I served alongside. I have been “dipping” for well over 20 years now. Believe it or not, I am sick with myself knowing how long I have been doing the crap.

An hour passed and I pulled the tobacco out of my mouth due to extreme exhaustion kicking in. I didn’t want to swallow any of it knowing I would likely get sick.

The team I was with took to the highest ground we could find in the desert believing the simulated downed pilot would likely do the same. We wanted to find him and use him as bait. We wanted to ambush the Air Force Special Operators.

We found the downed pilot before his rescuers. We were in the grind. But boredom quickly set in again. I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. It was then where one of my partners pulled out an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) and grabbed a single pack of Folgers coffee.

He smashed the coffee grounds into smaller pieces. I observed what he was doing completely oblivious to what would come next. He pinched the grounds and placed them between his lips and gums just like I had earlier with my tobacco.

“Goes straight into the bloodstream,” He said. “This stuff will wake you up real quick and keep you going all night and day.”

This guy had combat experience as he previously served in Panama during the invasion. He must have known what he was talking about. I followed his lead.

I could feel my eyes start to focus, my body felt warm, my muscles wanted to move. I was fully alert, ready to continue the mission. This was the first time I put coffee grinds into my mouth as a replacement to tobacco.

Just shy of ten years later, I found myself doing the same thing again with coffee. I was in Afghanistan perched on a remote outpost conducting an advisory mission alongside some heroic American patriots. They were there for a few months already. I would only be there for a few days.

I knew the desired times for an enemy engagement. They set a pattern – early morning or just before darkness. Once in a while they would hit the outpost in the middle of the day but that was just to keep us on our toes.

I had already been awake for twelve hours and the sun hadn’t even fallen yet. I was tired physically and tired of chewing tobacco all day. You know what I did next.

I reached for some coffee grinds I had packed away in my pack and placed a pinch between my cheeks and gums. I was alert. I was in the grind.

Luckily, throughout my short stay, the enemy never came.

In time, I left Afghanistan never to return. I have no need to stay up longer than 18 hours at a time these days but I do have plenty of reason to be tired and finding myself needing a hot Cup of Joe.

As a new daddy, I had a lot of thinking to do in my life. Did I want to continue the career I was in serving as a contractor in combat zones? Did I want to continue with the heavy tobacco use? Did I want to ensure I lived a healthy lifestyle so my babies could grow up with their daddy?

I made some decisions to alter my lifestyle. One of those decisions was to quit tobacco use. Unfortunately, it’s been the hardest thing I ever did. Hopefully, that will change though.

Watching the Friday evening television show Shark Tank, I saw two young kids pitching their business of selling coffee grinds as a replacement for chewing tobacco. Their company is Grinds. Right away, I knew to find their website and order some.

I placed my order and waited. Thankfully, I ordered six cans of the stuff because it did take ten days to get in the mail. I don’t have ten days. My babies don’t have ten days. I need to quit chewing tobacco.

I have tried all the tobacco free alternatives. Admittedly, I find them tasting horrific. Grinds is different. The taste of Grinds is amazing. I only have the mint chocolate, however it is outstanding.

With it even comes a little tingle sensation in the mouth which closely resembles the very feeling I would get from chewing tobacco.

Why hasn’t anyone invented Grinds earlier while I was operating overseas? I have a pouch of Grinds in my mouth right now as I type and am happy as a clam. I am not a paid endorser of the product. I am only writing about this for two reasons.

First and foremost, with my first trial of Grinds, I have fallen in love with the product. Second, as someone who served in combat, I know how many guys are chewing tobacco. I am not telling anyone what to do here. What I am doing is giving a testimony and if anything I write is something you can relate to, you will realize I am actually being very serious about this ordeal.

Grinds is a tobacco replacement using coffee and other natural ingredients. If the military is serious about eliminating tobacco use, I highly suggest every Class Six, Shoppette, Commissary, and Base Exchange start carrying the stuff. Grinds has been endorsed by loads of professional baseball players and now it is being endorsed by Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran and author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors

Image: Mouth and Gum Damage; description Gum damage caused by the use of smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco); source National Cancer Institute

kerryKerry is a war novelist, media commentator, and terror analyst. He serves as the Vice President of Training and Public Relations for the Emerald Society of the Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. He currently teaches terrorism, intelligence, and protection management courses for Henley Putnam University. He is the author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors.