Community leaders in Smyrna broke ground Wednesday on a memorial to Marine Captain Jeff Kuss, the Blue Angels pilot who lost his life during a training exercise on June 2016.
The groundbreaking began with a ceremony at Lee Victory Park that was open to the public.
Capt. Kuss was flying a F/A-18C on June 2, 2016 ahead of the Great Tennessee Airshow when he crashed.
The National Naval Aviation Museum provided a recently retired Blue Angel F/A-18C-25-MC Hornet aircraft, which will depict Captain Kuss’ plane number 6.
“Now, today, to see the pride the community had, and so thankful to Mayor Reed and the effort she and the council put forth to make this memorial come to fruition… wonderful,” said resident, Larry Montgomery.
“That field will never be looked at the same,” added Jerry Boone.
“There were so many here in my city, here in Smyrna and Rutherford County, and even to Davidson and all of Middle Tennessee, that just wanted to do something, and what I’m glad to say, even a year later, is that we have the same spirit, and that means a lot not only to me but I know to military personnel, and certainly remembering a warrior that needs to be remembered for his sacrifice for his country and what he’s done, and for the family and his children that they will know that Jeff will never be forgotten,” said Chaplain Harrell.
“I can probably say there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. I pass this spot and this spot where the crash happened every day, to and from work,” said Matthew Burns, who witnessed the crash.
The town of Smyrna raised more than $1 million for the memorial to honor the 32-year-old pilot.
A website was also established to share more about the planned memorial and Capt. Kuss’ life, as well as photos of him and his family. Click here to check it out.