By B. Scott Mohr
It’s a safe bet that Mark and Melissa Amos will probably expect academic excellence out of their children. After all, Mark was valedictorian of Perry Meridian’s Class of 2004, and Melissa was no slouch either, earning salutatorian honors.
The young scholars, who have been sweethearts since their sophomore year, and several of their classmates were certainly vying for the top billing, but it was a friendly competition. “We all pushed each other to do our best,” she said. “Mark is very smart. He helped me with physics and math when I needed it. He didn’t have to work as hard to get his grades. School work came fairly easy for him.”
Mark graduated with a 4.49 grade point average and headed to Virginia Tech, where he began his training to become an Air Force officer. He enrolled in ROTC and the Corps of Cadets – a military academy with the school – and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduating in May 2008. Activated five months later, he’s now a captain and flies KC-10s, which are used to refuel military planes in flight and to transport troops and cargo.
Melissa earned a 4.46 GPA and attended Ball State, where she earned a degree in music education.
The couple remained sweethearts throughout college, despite some challenging moments, admitted Melissa. “The inherent separation was good for the type of life that we would be living. We only saw each other on breaks and during the summer when we were freshmen and sophomores, but I got a car and drove to Virginia Tech a couple of times each semester of my junior and senior years.”
Because of Mark’s schedule was so rigid, he wasn’t able to get away from the corps to see his sweetie at BSU.
They were engaged between their second and third years of college and were married in Indianapolis on May 31, 2008, before honeymooning at Clifty Falls State Park in southeast Indiana and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
It wasn’t long before Amoses were stationed at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Okla., where Mrs. Amos enjoyed the small-town Midwestern aura and teaching music to pupils at an elementary school.
After 18 months there, the couple moved to McGuire AFB, which is in south central New Jersey and about an hour from the coast. “It’s really not near anything,” she said.
The Amoses live on base, and Melissa said she really likes it. “It’s great living near people who have similar lifestyles. It looks like any other vinyl village you would see in Indianapolis, but the people here make it a great community.”
The neighborhood is providing the perfect environment for the couple to raise their children, Rebecca, 3 1/2 years old, and Hannah, 19 months. A stay-at-home mom, Mrs. Amos has her hands full with her kids but finds time to direct the choir at her church. And those hands will become more full in June as she’s expecting another baby.
Between caring for her children and working with the choir, she’s a happy camper. “It’s a great balance. I get to stay home with my girls, but I also get to do something that I love. “My kids are a blast. They keep things entertaining!”
While Melissa enjoys living on the base, she’s well aware that her husband will be assigned to another facility within a year or so. The normal stay at a base is four years, and that’s how long the Amoses have been at McGuire. “I expect to move by next summer,” she said.
When describing her husband’s work, it’s obvious by the tone of her voice that she’s extremely proud of what he does. “He loves his work; it’s what he wanted to do ever since he was in high school. How many people do you know that refuel fighter jets and other military planes while they are in flight?”
The KC-10s, also referred to as Extenders and “gasoline stations in the sky,” play a key role in the armed forces because fighter jets lack the fuel capacity to make transatlantic flights. According to the Air Force’s website, KC-10s are 181 feet in length with a wingspan of 165 feet. When fully loaded, they weigh 593,000 pounds, of which 356,000 pounds can be fuel. Powered by three jet engines, they cruise at 620 mph while covering 4,400 miles on a “tank” of gas.
Melissa has a good understanding of Mark’s job, having been aboard a KC-10 on a refueling mission. She watched the boom in action as its capable of delivering up to 1,100 gallons of gas per minute. (Writer’s note: I went on a similar flight, and the experience of seeing a fighter jet pull up to refuel is indescribable)
When not deployed, Mark has a 9-to-5 job at the base unless he’s training, which is like continuing education for pilots. He was deployed three times on eight-week missions in 2012. “I missed him a lot,” said Melissa, noting that her husband is on shorter assignments in between the long ones. “He has seen a lot of the world. He’s been to Europe and the Middle East and was in Hawaii and Japan in February.”
The couple get back to their beloved hometown about twice a year and were here for Christmas. They remain in touch with a few of their old friends via Facebook. Melissa, daughter of Karen and Dewayne Boyer, has two sisters, both of whom have moved away from the Circle City. Mark, son of Mike and Carol Amos, has a sister who still lives in Indy.
Which base the Amoses wind up at next year is anyone’s guess. But one thing is for sure: Mark will continue to offer service with a smile while operating his high-flying gas station.