Legendary Locals of Alamogordo
By Michael Ray Shinabery
By the time Alamogordo's founders platted the town in the late 1800s, bestowing it with the Spanish name for Fat Cottonwood, the regions lush grasses were luring cowboys such as Oliver Lee. Then, in 1941, an event more than 3,000 miles away changed the quiet community. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, chamber president Mose Cauthen quickly spearheaded bringing the Armys mission to train bomber pilots to the Tularosa Basin. During the Space Race, Dr. John Stapp oversaw the programs at Holloman Air Force Base that sent Joe Kittinger, Dave Simons, and Demi McClure floating heavenward underneath balloons. Soon after, Ed Dittmer was training chimpanzees to rocket out of Earths atmosphere and prove man could survive in that hostile environment. Alamogordo is where the Old West melds with ever-evolving technology, along with a rich artistic and literary legacy championed by such women as Linnie Townsend, Maude Rathgeber, and Margaret Flickinger.