The finishing touches are being put on a memorial to honor Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who was killed when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a practice flight demonstration in Smyrna, Tennessee in June 2016.
Kuss, who was in his second year on the team, was loved by many. He also was popular in the media, since his position as the team’s 2015 narrator also enabled him to give rides to media, VIPs, and local influencers at each show site the Blue Angels attended.
Following the crash, the town of Smyrna wanted to honor Kuss in a special way. In May of 2017, plans were announced to build a permanent memorial for the fallen Blue Angels pilot outside the airport and adjacent to Lee Victory Recreation Park, where the town came together the night of the crash to honor Kuss. Plans for the memorial included pavers, which could be bought for a small donation, and a retired F/A-18 Hornet in Blue Angel colors.
On October 18th, 2017, groundbreaking for the memorial was held.
On Friday, the most prominent part of the memorial was installed. A retired Blue Angel jet, BuNo 163498, was lifted by crane from a flatbed trailer and into position on an elevated platform in the memorial. The aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.
In a video posted by the Town of Smyrna, some F/A-18 hornets are seen flying over the Blue Angel jet. The flyover was performed by members of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA. They flew in from California on Thursday, and waited until the plane was placed to do the flyover, then departed on their way to NAS Oceana, VA.
The memorial dedication will be held on June 9 at 10:00 a.m. at Lee Victory Recreation Park in Smyrna and is open the public. For those who can’t attend, the ceremony will be streamed live. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more info.