ANCHORAGE (AP) _ 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, died June 25 when his single-engine Piper Cub went down while he was on 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, had worked with Moen since 1986 and had known him since Moen joined the department in 1983.
Hard 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 accident 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 both the state and the military, he accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours.
The cause of the accident is unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
The Rev. Michael Nash spoke of Moen's loving nature and sense of humor. He had a way about him that put people at ease, Nash said.
``He was constantly trying to take any situation and make it lighthearted,'' he 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.
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