With friendly eyes and a ready smile, one might mistake Lt. Col. Alan Mooneyham for an academics professor rather than an ROTC officer.
For three years Mooneyham, has served the SHSU ROTC program and has remained a prominent presence at the university.
“It’s a big honor to do something like this,” said Mooneyham, who hopes to extend his assignment at SHSU into a fourth year, and possibly longer. His assignment is due to end in August 2004.
Mooneyham was stationed at SHSU in August 2001 after being selected by a board of Army personnel.
He said Sam Houston was his first choice of assignments because he is a native Texan and has family in the area. He said he was also impressed with SHSU’s prestige among ROTC programs.
“Sam Houston’s ROTC has a history as one of the best in the nation, and in fact was number one in the early ’90s,” Mooneyham said.
Mooneyham said he wanted the challenge of helping to bring the program back to where it had previously been.
Growing up in Dallas, Mooneyham attended Dallas Baptist College. While there, he joined the ROTC program as a junior in 1981. He also worked in the circulation department of the Dallas Morning News.
Though the two jobs had conflicts, when the opportunity arose to attend helicopter flight training, Mooneyham said he “jumped on it.”
“I gave my two weeks at the paper, and the rest is history,” he said.
In 1983, Mooneyham graduated with an undergraduate degree, and went on to the University of Texas to earn his master’s degree in Latin American studies.
Since then he has had numerous state assignments in the Army, and has been overseas to Germany, Venezuela and Barbados.
Presently, Mooneyham takes great strides in teaching his junior and senior ROTC students the leadership skills they will need as officers in the Army.
He said the focus of the program is to give the students valuable leadership opportunities and experiential curriculum.
“They don’t just read about it,” he said. “Anybody can read history books, but we want them to apply their leadership skills.”
In a lab that Mooneyham instructs, his students are given the responsibility of being in charge of a particular situation. Mooneyham said success is not the only goal of the exercises. More importantly, he said, is that the students acquire leadership skills.
Besides leadership, Mooneyham said he enjoys being able to “share war stories” and expose students to the “Army culture.”
He said ROTC professors have a unique opportunity to share a more personal relationship with their students.
“We’re like an extended family,” Mooneyham said. “Most adopt their students and go far and above what most professors are able to do for their students.”
Mooneyham said he also enjoys sharing life’s values with his students. He takes pride in telling them about his two children, Jesse, 7, and Sarah, 2, and especially about his 20-year marriage to his wife, Sherry.
“I like to tell about my marriage so people can see that it is still possible,” he said. “Despite the way our culture is leaning, it can be done.”