ALAN JOSEPH MOMBERGER was born to Mr.
and Mrs. William Momberger in Ilion, NY,
a land filled with the beauty of lakes, streams,
farmlands, and woods. The outdoors was an
important and happy part of Alan’s youth. He
loved sledding, ice skating, snow skiing, swimming,
horseback riding, and golf.
When Alan was only seven, his older
brother Bill joined the Army Air Corps and
became a test pilot for the P-40 fighter. On
routine flights from Westover Field to the Bell
facility in Buffalo, NY, he would drop down
over the Momberger home, rev up his engine,
and waggle his wings. Alan was very proud of
him and was sold on flying, which influenced
the rest of his life. Though his brother flew
P-47s and P-51s over Europe and was killed in
combat, Alan still was determined to fly.
In high school, Alan continued to enjoy
the outdoors. He did so well academically
that he received a full scholarship to Syracuse
University’s School of Forestry. Despite his
mother’s understandable concern, Alan wanted
to fl y and chose the military academy closest
to home, the United States Military Academy.
He took the tests, had the highest scores and
was appointed, entering only seven days after
graduation from Ilion High School.
At West Point, he was in Company I-1, located
in South Area. There he spent his three
upper class years with roommates Bill Frier
and Mel Remus. The trio all took Spanish,
which was a big help on the language scene.
They also went on several dates and weekend
outings together. Alan was a fine-looking
man. His roommates swear he could start
walking down the street and, within a block,
some attractive young lady would stop and
begin speaking with him. Pursuing his love of
the outdoors, Alan belonged to the Ski Club
for four years and was president during his
Firstie year. He was also an active member of
the Dialectic Society.
True to his early love of flying, Alan selected
the Air Force upon graduation. He went
to Kinston, NC, for primary pilot training,
passed the Link Trainer and soloed in a P-3
Piper Cub before moving on to Phase 2 in
the T-6. After mastering that plane, he moved
into aerobatics and navigation flights. These
transitions confirmed his love of flight and
required adaptations. At Greenville Air Base
in Mississippi, he got into the “real” Air Force
and learned to pilot jets. There, they concentrated
on formation flying, aerobatics, and
navigation. Finally, Alan received his treasured
silver pilot wings.
During these years, Alan met Joe Lapchick,
a classmate and fellow pilot who became one
of his best friends. They went on golf outings
and numerous trips together. In fact, Joe introduced
Alan to his future wife, Evans, a model
and student at Barnard College. Evans (Jean
Evans Finnegan) and Alan were married in
June 1956. His USMA roommate Bill Frier,
also a B-25 bomber pilot, was best man.
Due to cutbacks in Air Force units and
planes after the Korean War, flying positions
were at a premium, and jet budgets were particularly
hard hit. Still wanting to fl y, Alan
pursued helicopter training. He mastered the
H-13 (of MASH fame) and the H-19, a workhorse
in Korea, before moving on to the H-21,
a dual rotor helicopter. In 1956, not long after
this training, Alan’s helicopter squadron was
sent to Japan, where he and Evans lived on
the economy, moved many times, and started
their family with the birth of Alan Eugene.
Alan’s flying future ran aground due to Evans’
strong position against assignment uncertainty
and service separations while raising a family.
In honor of their marriage, Alan resigned as a
captain in 1958.
Though he left the Air Force, Alan never
truly left the field of aviation. He served as an
aeronautical engineer, project manager, and international
liaison for Bendix Aviation, General
Time Corporation, Lockheed Corporation,
and ended his evolutionary
Corporation. He described
his own personal
efforts as “lots of flying—
pilot and passenger—
lots of happiness,
tons of mistakes and
errors, many successes
and prideful results, intertwined with regrets
During these years, Alan lived all across the
United States in New York City, Chicago, and
Washington, DC. He also had many short-term
addresses throughout southern California
during long business assignments in the
Middle East, South America, North Africa,
Europe, and the Far East. Yet, along the way,
Alan and Evans managed to have six more
children: Siobhan, Evans, Hilary, Colin, Ryan,
and Ian. Alan shared his great love of nature
with them and taught them to appreciate recognizing
what they wanted out of life and instilled
in them the perseverance to pursue it.
In 1991, Alan met and married Joan
Marie Alcorn. A few years later, in 1995, Alan
fully retired. He and Joan explored many
coasts around the world, launched countless
golf balls, hiked endless trails, and eventually
settled in Las Cruces, NM.
Sadly, Alan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
disease in early 2002. True to form, he did not
quit. Alan and Joan organized and did their best
to spread the word and hope for fellow sufferers.
They became members of the Board of Directors
of the New Mexico Alzheimer’s Association,
developed relevant support programs, and
wrote informational articles for its newsletter.
Alan joined the ghostly ranks of the Long Gray
Line in May 2005, dying from unexpected
complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.
As only Alan would say, “Somewhere over
the rainbow, you will find me.” Any of us who
knew him well would say, “Fly on my love,
my friend, my brother, my father. Fly on in
peace and know we are with you.”