Former Soldotna Fish and Wildlife trooper remembered

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2001

A state Fish and Wildlife Protection officer, who had served in Soldotna, died when his single-engine Piper Cub went down near Lake Iliamna Monday night, Alaska State Troopers said.

James A. Moen, 49, of McGrath, was on a routine sport fishing patrol when the float-equipped plane went down about 65 miles southwest of the lake, trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.

Moen was a 17-year veteran of the troopers' Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, having served in Petersburg and Soldotna before transferring to McGrath. He also was an experienced pilot, with more than 4,000 flight hours as both a state and military pilot, Wilkinson said.

Moen had served in Soldotna from Aug. 20, 1995 to Aug. 1, 2000.

He is survived by his wife, Ann, and four children, James, Anneliese, Megan, and Ryan.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in the Bryant Field Hangar at Fort Richardson in Anchorage.

A memorial fund has been established in Moen's memory. Contributions can be made at any Alaska U.S.A. Federal Credit Union.

Moen and another trooper, both flying solo, had been conducting routine sport fishing patrols in state PA-18 Piper Cubs on floats approximately 65 miles southwest of Lake Iliamna.

After landing on Old Man Lake, the other trooper took off before Moen, according to Wilkinson. When Moen didn't arrive at Lake Iliamna, the trooper immediately retraced the flight back to Old Man Lake and saw the wreckage of Moen's aircraft. He landed about one-half mile away and hiked to the site.

The body was recovered from the crash site on Tuesday and brought into King Salmon and then flown to Anchorage to the State Medical Examiner's office.

The investigation into the crash by the National Safety and Transportation Board will probably take several months, said Wilkinson.

Kenai Peninsula friends remembered Moen as a cop that people loved and one who could make a joke about almost anything.

When he was transferred to McGrath last year, he joked it was a present to all the commercial fishers he caught crossing the line in the Cook Inlet.

"Jim was a super guy. One heck of a guy. Someone just recently put it well when they said Jim could make somebody smile in the worst of situations," said Mark Kruzick, a retired trooper who worked with Moen.

Trooper Capt. Howard Starbard, who is stationed in Palmer said, "You couldn't find a nicer, love-of-life kind of guy, and he was a very professional pilot. I wouldn't be afraid to get in an airplane with him anytime."

Around Soldotna he could sometimes be found on the ice rink playing hockey. He also played softball.

He also was an officer and pilot in the Air National Guard.

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