Blue Angel Memorial Dedication
A Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet is now in place at the Capt. Jeff Kuss USMC Memorial at lee Victory Recreation Park. The official Dedication Ceremony took place on Saturday, June 9th. The dedication ceremony featured an F/A-18C Hornet flyover by Captain Kuss' former Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312), the Checkerboards, led by Major Kyle Reilly, flight lead and mission commander.
The dedication program also featured guest speakers Commander Mike Campbell, President of the Blue Angels Foundation, Captain Ryan Bernacchi, the Director of Chief and Naval Air Training (CNATRA), and Christina Kuss, wife of Captain Jeff Kuss. Music was provided by the Stewarts Creek High School Band and Chorale. In addition, active and retired military personnel from the Marines, Navy, and Blue Angels were in attendance to pay tribute to Captain Jeff Kuss.
"This was a special day in history for the Town of Smyrna and its people, as well as for the Kuss family," said Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed. "Raising money for the $1.4 million memorial was a grassroots effort that began in Smyrna and Rutherford County, then expanded throughout the state and culminated with donations from across the country."
The F/A 18-C Blue Angel Hornet featured at the memorial is on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. The memorial is dedicated to Marine Captain Jeff Kuss who on June 2, 2016, lost his life in a tragic in-flight accident while flying as Blue Angel #6 in practice for the Great Tennessee Air Show.
Blue Angel Aircraft Installed At The Capt. Jeff Kuss USMC Memorial
A Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet was installed at the Capt. Jeff Kuss USMC Memorial at Lee Victory Recreation Park on Wednesday, May 30. All Coast Aircraft Recovery supervised the installation and Maxim Crane will provide the crane and support services for the mounting of the aircraft in coordination with CraneWorks who provided ground transport. The 350-ton crane has a telescopic boom length of 210.1 feet, a tip height of 196 feet, and is configured to place the aircraft weighing 21,600 pounds on the memorial pedestal.
Captain Jeff Kuss
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss, a native of Durango, Colorado, was a decorated pilot who joined the Blue Angels in 2014. Prior to the Blue Angels, he served in Afghanistan and had accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours and 175 landings on aircraft carriers.
As a child, Kuss dreamed of being a pilot and obtained his pilot’s license before his driver’s license. After graduating from Fort Lewis College, Kuss was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and reported to Pensacola, Fla. in 2007. He earned his wings of gold in 2009 and later graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapon School, also known as “Top Gun,” in 2012.
While serving in Afghanistan, Kuss earned the Strike Flight Air Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. In 2014, he joined the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron.
On June 2, 2016, at the age of 32, Kuss tragically lost his life when his jet crashed a day before the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna. A Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet similar to the jet flown by Captain Kuss and on loan from the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida will be on permanent display as part of the Captain Jeff Kuss Memorial. He is survived by his wife Christina, children Calvin and Sloane, parents Janet and Michael, and brother Eric.
“Jeff was my inspiration and the outpouring of support from the people of Tennessee has been profoundly humbling. You all have wrapped our family in so much love. We are inspired and we are grateful. This memorial is a wonderful tribute to Jeff’s life and distinguished service. I am hopeful it will inspire and encourage the children who see it to pursue their dreams as Jeff did.” - Christina Kuss
By this memorial, the Town of Smyrna and its citizens are proud to honor the legacy of Marine Captain Jeff Kuss. Kuss was a fearless leader, a son, a brother, a husband, a father and a hero. It is with great honor that the Town of Smyrna hereby pays tribute to his legacy.
The Town of Smyrna gratefully acknowledges the loan of the F/A-18C Hornet, BuNo 163498,
which is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL.