Unveiling of memorial for Blue Angels pilot Capt. Jeff Kuss expected to draw large crowd
Finishing touches are well under way as the town of Smyrna makes plans for the opening, installation and dedication of the Capt. Jeff Kuss USMC Memorial.
At 10 a.m. Friday, June 1, a Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet will be installed at the memorial site in Lee Victory Recreation Park. The dedication ceremony is set for 10 a.m. June 9 at the memorial site.
"The citizens of the Town of Smyrna are excited to see the installation of the No. 6 Blue Angel plane being mounted on the pedestal. It brings us one step closer to the dedication," said Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed.
In addition to a community supporting the memorial dedication, Kuss' wife, parents and brother will attend the ceremony as well, Reed said.
"We also have quite a few former Blue Angels and teammates of Jeff's that will be in attendance as well as speaking," Reed noted.
The memorial's dedication comes just two years to the day that Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss lost his life during a practice run for the Blue Angels performance at the Great Tennessee Air Show.
His death rocked the community.
"It's been a difficult two years for our community but we are excited to be able to honor Capt. Jeff Kuss and his family as well as the Blue Angels and the rest of the military community. It will be a day of healing for all of those who are involved in the tragic accident," Reed said.
The Blue Angel aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.
All Coast Aircraft Recovery will oversee the installation and Maxim Crane will provide the crane and support services for the mounting of the aircraft in coordination with CraneWorks who will be providing ground transport.
The 350-ton crane being utilized 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.
What to know about the ceremony
A portion of Sam Ridley Parkway East will be rerouted during the installation process.
Reed said anyone attending the dedication should prepare for large crowds.
"There will be limited seating, so if people can bring their lawn chairs and blankets that would be a huge help," Reed said. "Because of the large number of people that we are expecting we're recommending people make sure they leave enough time for traffic and parking that Saturday."
Parking will be available at Lee Victory Recreation Park as well as overflow parking once that fills up.
About Captain Jeff Kuss, USMC
Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was a decorated pilot who, through his career, accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours and 175 carrier landings. Kuss served in Afghanistan and earned the Strike Flight Air Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during his time in the military. He joined the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron in September 2014 and flew as Opposing Solo for the 2016 team.
Contribute to the memorial
Funds are still being accepted for the memorial. Here are ways to donate:
Online at CaptJeffKussUSMCMemorial.com
MobileCause: Text Jeff to 71777
In person at the Smyrna Town Hall, 315 S. Lowry St., or any Franklin Synergy Bank.
- Daily News Journal