Veterans

This combat wounded Vietnam veteran has the spice to make anything nice

'Tis the season for the giving of gifts. 'Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It's hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the grill master or pit mistress:

~ a pack of spice rubs from the kitchen of a Vietnam vetrepreneur ~

"One of the beauties of being a human being is that you have the ability to adapt."

Gene (Cappy) Holmon is a force at a farmer's market. I'd know. All it took him was five minutes talking to my wife about his local Los Angeles line of dry rub spices and she came straight home and put me in a headlock until I promised to include Cappy's Dry Rub in the Mighty Holiday Gift Guide.

And she doesn't really like meat. But she's sure got a thing for Cappy.

I caught up with Holmon this week and got the 411 on how an Army veteran who was disabled during the Tet Offensive in 1968 first transitioned to a busy career as a FedEx Distribution Hub Director before pivoting to become the Meat Spice King of Los Angeles. Brace yourself. It involves losing an arm.

Holmon had been in Vietnam about 6 months when he was injured in combat, suffering damage from both AK-47 rounds and what he assumes was an RPG. Medics amputated his right arm above the elbow in a field hospital before sending him to Japan for recovery.

"...I was pretty depressed...I think it was probably three days before I actually looked to see if my arm was still there...I was in an amputee ward and I saw a lot of guys, you know, like me but with both legs gone...or both legs and an arm or something like that and at that point I said, well, hey, I'm not that bad off...At that point I just decided to get better."

Holman returned home to San Francisco and studied business management at USF on the G.I. Bill. Then he returned to his previous employer, UPS. He quickly rose through the ranks to Division Manager of UPS Hub Operations for all of Arizona, New Mexico and Southern Nevada. That's when FedEx poached him to help implement their new Super Hub Distribution Center in Memphis.

And as he tracked across the American South for business, he sampled the many flavors of sauce, spice and smoke upon which Southern culinary tradition pins its most heartfelt pride.

You'll want to lick your palms. Probably wash your hands first.

By the time he retired, Holmon was experimenting with his own blends of dry rub spices, perfecting his grill skills, and winning praise for his cooking at family events. When California Cottage Law went into effect in 2013, Holmon's wife Paulette urged him to offer his blends to the public and Cappy's was born. But because Cottage Law permitting initially limits sales to direct-to-consumer, Holman found that he'd have to adapt from being the distribution genius behind the scenes to being a grassroots-level, Face-of-the-Brand at farmer's markets and local boutique grocery stores.

It can't have been too hard. Insider knowledge: Cappy is a peach. As soon as you meet him, you're sipping the paprika-flavored Kool-Aid.

Cappy's has since expanded to online sales, which is where we wholeheartedly recommend that you go to order yourself one or several of his blends in time for Holiday cooking. Cappy's Dry Rubs are great on meats, obviously, but check out how well they crossover to fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they're giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.