SUMATRA, Indonesia A Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot serving in Sumatra, Indonesia drowned Nov. 7 after trying to rescue two teenagers who had ventured too far into the ocean.
Benjamin T. Uskert, who also served as a mechanic with MAF, was at a beach with a group from a local orphanage when the teens ventured into deep water and were swept away from the shore. He and another adult swam out to assist them but Uskert and one of the youths were overcome by the waves and current. Uskert, the married father of a young son, was pronounced dead at the scene; the body of the teenager was not recovered.
"We are profoundly saddened by the loss of our friend and fellow worker in Christ, as well as the young man he was attempting to rescue," said John Boyd, president and chief executive officer of MAF. "Please pray for Ben's wife, Katie, and son, Jeremiah, as well as the other members of the family."
The Uskerts joined MAF in 2008. They attended language school in Indonesia for nine months before beginning service with the MAF Sumatra program a year ago. Memorial services were set for Nov.13 in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.
Uskert was born and reared in Valparaiso, Ind., and accepted Jesus as his Savior at an early age. He graduated from Purdue University in 2003 with a bachelor of science degreee in aviation technology. He took additional courses at Trinity Bible College and Moody Bible Institute.
Prior to joining MAF, Uskert worked as an aircraft technician and trainer. He also served as director of maintenance for the Indiana Aviation Museum, overseeing a fleet of 17 aircraft. He married Katie Tucker in 2005, and their son, Jeremiah, was born in 2007.
A fund has been established to assist with the cost of family members' travel to Indonesia. Contributions may be made through the MAF website at www.maf.org, or by calling 1-800-FLYS-MAF. MAF has served in Sumatra since 2004, when the organization played a key role in the recovery efforts following the deadly Tsunami that devastated the Aceh area.
Founded in 1945, MAF is a Christian ministry organization, which transports missionaries, medical personnel and supplies, performs disaster relief work and conducts emergency medical evacuations in remote areas. MAF also provides distance learning services, as well as telecommunications services such as satellite Internet access, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless systems.