Barbecuing for wounded troops
Pat Momany, 57, who recently moved to Dickinson, filled his smoker with meat to serve at a barbecue with his new friends. The meal was an example of the barbecues he prepares for the wounded troops at the Landstuhl Regional Hospital in Germany.
Momany is the founder and CEO of BBQ4Wounded Troops Overseas Inc., a non-profit organization based out of Poulsbo, Wash.
"I pretty much used up my savings and my retirement, so that's why I started the non-profit," he said.
A barbecue fosters memories of families and friends gathering for dinner and fellowship. And so it is with the wounded troops, who feast on his ribs, chicken and pulled pork with sides of beans and cole slaw.
"They all know barbecue," he said. "It's all about families getting together and having fun and loving each other. I go there to bring them a barbecue. I set up my smokers and do a two-day smoke."
A Navy veteran, Momany came to Dickinson to visit friends after he closed his smoking shop for the winter at Poulsbo.
"Really, I'm here to do a couple things. I've always been giving back, and the money I make I give to my nonprofit," he said.
Dickinson native Brenda Lee (Beaudoin) Frank described Momany as having a passion for the veterans.
"He sets up a barbecue for those wounded warriors and it brings him so much joy," she said. "He's very passionate about what he does."
Momany came to Dickinson at Frank's encouragement.
"I told him there were opportunities here," she said.
Momany is laying the groundwork to open his catering service called TaTu BBQ.
"I've always been gifted at cooking, and I learned to cook in Germany with my grandma," Momany said.
Describing himself as an Army brat, Momany added, "I love giving back to the troops."
Momany said Landstuhl is the military's largest hospital outside of America.
"Everybody that's wounded overseas goes there before they go home," he said. "The wounded actually come from all the NATO countries. It's a NATO hospital, but it's mostly wounded American troops that I feed with my barbecue with U.S.O. support."
Momany purchased four smokers and stored them in Germany. He rents an additional two smokers.
"One of the things for coming out here is to earn more money to buy bigger smokers or a mobile unit -- there's 17 different installations that have wounded where I can go," Momany said.
The non-profit organization covers the expenses and the food. He's made approximately 13 trips since he started in 2005. He prepares two or three meals each trip -- at hospital, the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility and for families of the wounded troops.
"What's so interesting is when I first get there before the initial smoke, I see troops who are sad, forlorn and depressed. They smell the barbecue and start thinking about home. Then, when you're smoking, they are laughing and talking about home."
Momany posted a letter of support on his website, written in January by Major Gen. Robert B. Bailey, U.S. Air Force.
"I have seen first-hand the healing effect these barbecues have on our wounded warriors," Bailey wrote.
"That's why I do it," Momany said. "How can you repay a soldier that stands in harms way and takes a bullet for you and doesn't know you? I'll continue as long as I can and I want to train other people because there are so many installations. They need the training and the vision."
Momany likes to shake the hands of the troops as they file through the barbecue line.
"Sometimes, I start crying because honestly, I am standing in the midst of patriots," Momany said. "I'm standing in the midst of these kids who don't even realize what they're doing. They are creating history and their names are going down in the history books. I stand in front of them in awe."
His first barbecue was served at a Germany Fisher House, similar to a Ronald McDonald House in America. His last visit to Germany was the Fourth of July. He planned to return in January, but the move to Dickinson may cause him to cancel the winter trip.
As the son of an Army warrant officer, Momany spent the first 11 of his 13 years living in Europe -- Italy, Germany, returning to the States and back to Germany.
Momany served with the U.S. Navy from 1974 to 1977 in Rota, Spain. He has visited countries around the world, including Asia and China. He trained as a French chef, but didn't like the hustle and bustle of a kitchen.
"I taught myself how to smoke and went to competitions," he said. "I actually took a class from a grand champion barbecue guy."
Momany prefers to prepare his meats with rubs instead of sauces.
"I'm not a sauce person," he said. "My philosophy is most sauces in America are what I call barbecue syrups because they are so sweet."
Momany is uncertain how long he will remain in western North Dakota.
"I'm here as long as I should be," he said.
He has the freedom to move as needed, and has a son living in Anchorage, Alaska.
Momany plans to become involved with local veteran organizations, give presentations and serve barbecues as fundraisers. Profits could be split between the sponsoring groups and BBQ4Wounded Overseas Inc., he said.
For more information, call 206-979-4686. For information about the non-profit organization, visit the website, www.bbq4wounded.org.