An Indiana State University graduate and U.S. Air Force flying instructor killed in a plane crash last week is being remembered in Terre Haute as an exceptional leader, great mentor and loving husband.
Lt. Scot Ames Jr., 24, an instructor pilot with the 50th Flying Training Squadron at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, died in last Friday’s crash of a T-38C Talon trainer aircraft near Montgomery, Alabama.
Ames, from New Pekin in southern Indiana, was a 2018 ISU graduate.
Also killed in the crash was a student pilot from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force, according to the Associated Press. The Columbus Air Force Base is home of the 14th Flying Training Wing; the wing’s mission is specialized undergraduate pilot training.
A memorial ceremony for Ames took place Thursday and was streamed from the Columbus Air Force Base.
Ames married Audra Dial, also a 2018 ISU graduate, last June.
“My heart goes out to all the ISU students, faculty, and staff sharing in this loss,” said Lt. Col. David A. Sulhoff, ISU professor of aerospace studies and commander of Air Force ROTC, in a statement. “Lt. Ames was a man of character who clearly left an indelible and positive impression on so many.”
In an interview, Sulhoff, who arrived at ISU in 2019, said he didn’t know Ames personally. But cadets who knew Ames from ISU’s AFROTC program say “how much of a very positive influence he was in their life,” Sulhoff said.
As an ISU senior, Ames served as a cadet wing commander and was responsible for the training program for cadets and “making sure they had all the knowledge they needed to move on to the next level. It’s a pretty important position,” Sulhoff said.
Among those strongly influenced by Ames was Liam Thomas, an ISU senior in the aviation program and member of the Air Force ROTC.
When Thomas started at ISU as a freshman in August 2017, Ames had been selected by the Air Force for pilot training, something Thomas aspired to. A few years later, Thomas was selected.
“Scott was a huge mentor to me and really helped me mentally, physically and academically. I think I speak for several others in the detachment that if it wasn’t for his leadership and his mentorship, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Thomas said.
News of Ames’ passing “hit me pretty hard,” Thomas said. He is following in Ames’ footsteps in many ways and served as a cadet wing commander last semester and continues to mentor freshmen cadets.
Other Air Force ROTC seniors served as strong motivators for Thomas and other cadets when they started at ISU, but “Scot stood out as being an exceptional leader, a great mentor and very motivating. ... He was always there for us and was always a great person to look up to,” Thomas said.
On social media, Audra Dial Ames shared her love for her husband and her grief at his loss.
She wrote that her “amazing husband was killed doing the one thing he loved the most, flying a fast USAF jet.”
She wanted people to know “what an amazing man he was.” She described him as “a giver. He was so selfless and would do anything for anyone. Scot was so intelligent but would always downplay his knowledge. Scot was the light of every party and room. There was not a person I met who didn’t love him or had a bad thing to say about him; he was everyone’s friend.”
He was always positive, and no matter the situation, he always found the good and tried to make sure everyone else saw it, too, she wrote. “Scot cared about what mattered most in life, loving the people around you with all you’ve got, and he sure succeeded at that.”
Audra Ames also wrote, “I cannot comprehend how this happened. He was a smart pilot. He was a safe pilot. Every morning before work I’d hug him for as long as possible before he’d leave. I’d give him many kisses and tell him to ‘please be so safe.’ He replied every time with an ‘always.’”
“Scot is the love of my life, he is my world and my everything. I love him with every ounce of my being. We got so little time together and I’m truly at a loss for words. This can’t be me. This can’t be us. This can’t happen to him.”
Audra Ames said she prays her husband “is up in heaven telling Jesus his mustache is better, listening to Chattahoochee over and over and over, drinking unlimited Budweisers and Coors Lights, flying even faster jets, and looking down on us all singing ‘everything’s gonna be alright...’ like he did for me every time I was upset.”