ANCHORAGE - More than 900 people, including Alaska State Troopers and National Guardsmen in full dress uniform, gathered Monday at a Fort Richardson hangar to celebrate the life and mourn the death of wildlife trooper James A. Moen.
Moen, 49, of McGrath and formerly of Petersburg, died June 25 when his single-engine Piper Cub went down during a sportfishing patrol about 65 miles southwest of Lake Iliamna.
Col. Joel Hard, director of the Fish and Wildlife Protection division of the Department of Public Safety, described Moen as a genuine and affable person, who was able to successfully juggle his career and his family.
"I don't think his family ever felt like they were playing second fiddle," Hard said.
The crash took everyone by surprise because of Moen's experience as a pilot, Hard said.
In addition to flying as a trooper, Moen was also a warrant officer in the Alaska Army National Guard. During Moen's tenure with the state and the military, he accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours.
The cause of the crash is unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
The Rev. Michael Nash spoke of Moen's loving nature and sense of humor, saying the trooper had a way of putting people at ease.
"He was constantly trying to take any situation and make it lighthearted," Nash said. "It's said even the people who he arrested liked him."
In one corner of the hangar were collages of family photographs and a table displaying a meritorious service medal and a distinguished service medal.
At the graveside service Moen's widow, Anne, and their four children, Megan, James, Anneliese and Ryan, held hands and watched with tears as an American flag was lifted off the casket, folded and presented to Anne.
The service concluded with a 21-gun salute, a rendition of "Taps" and a flyover by a C-23 Sherpa, the type of plane Moen flew in the Guard, and a helicopter.