An American pilot working for a missionary agency died Sunday in a swimming accident while trying to save teenagers swept away from shore in Indonesia.
Benjamin Uskert, a pilot and mechanic serving in Sumatra, Indonesia, with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), was at a beach with a group of people from the local orphanage on Nov. 7. While they were at the beach, they saw two teens swim into deep waters that swept them away. Uskert and another adult swam out to help them, but Uskert and one of the youths were overcome by the waves and current.
The MAF pilot was pronounced dead at the scene while the body of one of the teenagers has not been 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, in a statement Monday. "Please pray for Ben's wife, Katie, and son, Jeremiah, as well as the other members of the family."
Uskert was born and raised in Valparaiso, Ind., and graduated from Purdue University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology. He took additional courses at Trinity Bible College and Moody Bible Institute. Before joining MAF, Uskert worked as an aircraft technician and trainer. He was also director of maintenance for the Indiana Aviation Museum, overseeing a fleet of 17 aircrafts.
In 2005, he married Katie Tucker, and their son, Jeremiah, was born in 2007.
A year after Jeremiah was born, the Uskerts joined MAF. They attended language school in Indonesia for nine months before beginning their service with the MAF Sumatra program in December 2009.
Friends and family will say their final farewell to Benjamin Uskert at memorial services on Saturday in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.
A fund has been established to help family members of Uskert travel to Indonesia for the services.
MAF was founded in 1945 as a Christian ministry organization that transports missionaries, medical personnel and supplies, performs disaster relief work, and conducts emergency medical evacuations in remote areas. The ministry also provides distance learning services, as well as telecommunications services such as satellite Internet access, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless systems.