Jeff Kuss Memorial

Smyrna's memorial to honor fallen Blue Angels pilot U.S. Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss is just thousands of dollars away from becoming a reality.

Town officials announced plans for the $1 million memorial earlier this year in memory of Kuss, 32, whose plane crashed June 2, 2016, during a practice run for the Great Tennessee Air Show. 

During Saturday's Wings of Freedom Fish Fry, Mayor Mary Esther Reed announced more than $965,000 toward the goal had been raised.

"I wondered how we would raise $1 million, but four months later, here we are," Reed told the estimated 2,000 in attendance at the Smyrna Rotary Club event. "This memorial could not happen without you."

The centerpiece of the memorial will be an F/A-18C Hornet, similar to one flown by the Blue Angels. On display during Saturday's event, the jet is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., home base for the flight demonstration team.

More than $625,000 of the funds have been contributed by the local business community.
Thousands of residents lined the streets of downtown Smyrna when the jet arrived in town in late May. A ground breaking for the memorial is planned for next month, with the unveiling set for June 2018.

A native of Colorado, Kuss joined the Blue Angels in September 2014. Prior to that, he served as a pilot in Afghanistan, earning the Strike Flight Air Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Kuss is survived by his wife, Christina, children Calvin and Sloane, parents Janet and Michael, and brother Eric.

How to contribute to the Kuss Memorial

  • Online at
  • Mobile Cause: Text Jeff to 71777
  • In person at the Smyrna Town Hall, 315 S. Lowry St., or any Franklin Synergy Bank

— Article from the Daily News Journal