Major Marc Mathes, U.S. Air Force
From: Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma
Nominated by: James Bottomlee
Watch Mathes' Friends and Family Video >>
>Describe Major Mathes’ ongoing commitment and dedication to children.
Throughout his life Marc has demonstrated a passion for children. In college, he cared for children at his church while the parents were engaged in church activities. Later, he and his wife Kerry chose to adopt 4 children from Russia and Guatemala after Kerry was injured on her job.
While waiting for the adoption approval, Marc visited Russia several times to care for his future son’s health and to demonstrate his immeasurable love for the boys. Marc always arrived with not only enough food and formula for his sons, but he also brought life-sustaining food, formula, and vitamins for the other 100 children, most of which had blue spotted skin from their poor diet. It broke his heart that he couldn’t take them all home! Currently, he serves as a youth pastor leading activities for 30+ kids.
>Describe Major Mathes’ extraordinary efforts to father from a distance during military separation.
As a renowned story teller to his children, he always records stories prior to his departure so they will hear his voice and feel his love while he’s away. Prior to his departure date, he takes vacation days to spend time with his children and wife celebrating any important events he will miss and giving them the personal 1-on-1 time that all children crave with their father. He explains in “kid terms” why he is going, what he will be doing, and ensures they know that his love only grows stronger for them while he’s absent.
While deployed, he makes every effort to call or web cam daily, even for the few moments it takes to say goodnight. He also speaks regularly with his wife, catches up on family events, and expresses his empathy for her temporary single-parent responsibilities.
>Describe Major Mathes’ efforts to successfully balance military life and family life.
Marc embodies the phrase “God, family, country.” Several times, Marc passed up career-boosting assignments due to the large time away from family these jobs demand. He makes it a priority to take leave on his children’s birthday to spend the day with them. When he was assigned a one-year unaccompanied tour to Korea, he voluntarily asked for a two-year accompanied tour so he could bring his family, even though this took him out of flying the F-15 for an extra year. It was an easy decision for him to sacrifice some of his flying career for his family.
Each year he takes his four children individually on an overnight trip. He lets them pick the location and event schedule. Whether it’s the aquarium, zoo, or LEGO Land, his children see him demonstrate his love while balancing an Air Force career.
>Describe Major Mathes’ efforts to mentor/strengthen other military fathers and/or military children who are separated from their fathers.
At 41 years young, Marc knows he’s been blessed with four wonderful children, and he takes every opportunity to mentor other children in our community. On more than one occasion, he has watched other families’ children overnight to allow their parents an overnight outing. Also, on several occasions when children are separated from their fathers during an Air Force deployment, Marc regularly checks in on their family to see how they’re doing, and takes the children along on one of his family activities.
Most importantly though, he often counsels other fathers on raising children and relates his adoption experiences. He has helped several families get started with the adoption process and provided encouragement and prayer when the adoption obstacles seem too tough of a hurdle.
>Are there any unique elements to Major Mathes’ story that make him stand out?
Marc is the honored father of Demitry, Samuel, Faith, & Allie. After an accident, doctors said his wife would be at great risk to ever become pregnant. Most would view this as a curse, but Marc chose to bless others through it. He and Kerry chose to adopt Russian orphans. He visited Russia several times at a great financial cost to adopt 2 boys. Later, while stationed in Korea, they adopted 2 girls from Guatemala; again, at a great cost.
He is a self-sacrificing father; bringing 4 orphans into a stable family, overcoming behavior issues, nurturing health, and fostering joy despite previous circumstances. Whether he’s outdoors with Demitry, building LEGOs with Samuel, or cheering for Faith & Allie at gymnastics, Marc is having a world-changing impact in their lives and in all those around him.