BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – Benjamin Uskert, 30, a pilot serving with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), died Sunday, November 7, in a swimming accident at a beach near Banda Aceh on the Island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Uskert drowned while he and another man were attempting to rescue two local teenagers who had ventured into deep water and were swept away from the shore. Uskert was pronounced dead at the scene and one of the teenagers was presumed dead after he could not be reached.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” said Mark Outerbridge, president and chief executive officer of Mission Aviation Fellowship of Canada. “MAF friends throughout the world are mourning the loss of these lives. We’re praying for Ben’s wife, Katie, and their three-year-old son, Jeremiah, as well as the family of the young Indonesian man.”
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, November 13, in Banda Aceh.
The Uskerts are from Indiana and joined MAF in 2008. They attended language school in Indonesia for nine months before beginning service with MAF’s Sumatra program in December, 2009. Last Sunday, Ben and his family had been at the beach with a group from a local orphanage.
MAF has provided flights for relief and development agencies in Sumatra since 2004, when the organization played a key role in the recovery efforts following the deadly tsunami that devastated much of the province of Aceh, Indonesia.
Founded in 1945, MAF (www.mafc.org) is a Christian organization that provides transportation for disaster relief work and conducts emergency medical evacuations in more than 35 countries. MAF also provides telecommunications services such as satellite internet access, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless systems.
Today, about 50 Canadian pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers are among the 450 personnel who serve worldwide through MAF.
For more information, contact Claudia Van Riesen in Guelph, Ontario, at [email protected] or 519.821.3914.