Wife of fallen Blue Angels pilot speaks for first time since his death

WKRN staff - PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRN) – Naval Air Station Pensacola is a place where many pilots and their families have been over the years, including Blue Angels pilot Captain Jeff Kuss, who will be honored in the final air show of the season this Friday.

Capt. Kuss tragically lost his life this past June when his jet crashed just a day before the Great Tennessee Airshow in Smyrna, Tennessee.

In these few months since his death, his widow Christina and his two young children have been cared for by their military family, and that's something Christina wanted to share, along with her hope for what can be done for any veteran in need.

If things had gone as planned, Christina Kuss would be preparing for a homecoming this weekend, heading to Naval Air Station to meet her husband with their children, Calvin and Sloan.

Previous story: Pilot killed in Smyrna Blue Angels crash was decorated, experienced

"Fly-ins on Sunday nights with the Blue Angels are so fun. Little mini homecomings welcome him home after a week on the road, seeing all the kids, all the Blue Angel kids run up to their dads and give them hugs," she told News 2.

The end of this 2016 season is a milestone for Christina after her husband's tragic death. She's made it this far.

"Since June 2, the town of Pensacola has really wrapped my family in love," she said. "Things like seeing six flags in my old neighborhood or down at the beach, or six stickers on people's cars."

Capt. Kuss flew jet No. 6 for the Blue Angels.

In the immediate aftermath, it was seeing Mike Campbell that helped pull her through. He's a former Blue Angel and now head of the Blue Angels Foundation.

"He flew in to assist me during a time when I was extremely overwhelmed, which was a grand gesture in and of itself," Christina said.

"Through tragedy, a friendship emerged," Mike told WKRN. "It's just what you do. It's kind of the Blue Angels way, and she's a member of the family. She always will be. I'm happy to know her."

Together, they are working through the foundation on two major fronts, one of which is to assist wounded veterans of any military branch to get back into the workplace.

"You may have a significant injury. You may have PTS, but we're going to help you with that and we're going to put you in programs that will give you the self-confidence and self-esteem to go out and be a productive member of the community, and it's really exciting," Mike explained.

The Blue Angels Foundation is also life-saving, working to reduce veteran suicide.

"We understand there's an average of 22 wounded veterans taking their lives on average every day," Mike said. "There are approximately 6,200 men and women killed in action since 9/11, and we're losing 8,000 to suicide every year right here at home."

Christina has since taken to social media with the 22 for 22 campaign, doing 22 push-ups and encouraging donations of $22.

"The foundation is doing some incredible work, really tangible work, and if people want to do something that's really near and dear to my heart, this is… it's a great one," she said.

It's something, she says, her husband would have done, and it's a way to honor him.

"He was always my inspiration. That's why I fell in love with Jeff. Just one of those that's magnetic, and you're like, ‘Wow. You make me want to do better,'" Christina told News 2.

Learn how you can help and find more information at BlueAngelsFoundation.org. To donate, you can text "give22" to 850-517-1280.

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