The body of Navy Blue Angels Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss was flown out of Smyrna about 11:40 a.m. Saturday on a Navy C-130 plane.
More than a dozen police cars and official vehicles guided a white hearse from Murfreesboro into Smyrna before Kuss’ body was loaded onto the plane. People braved the rain and lined Murfreesboro Road, waving American flags and wiping tears as the procession passed.
“I just think of his kids,” Joykarin Winter said, wiping a tear.
Police said Kuss’ body would flown home Saturday. The military jet team is based in Pensacola, Florida.
Kuss, 32, was killed Thursday when his Blue Angels jet crashed just after takeoff during
a practice flight at the Smyrna Airport. The elite military
demonstration jet team was in Middle Tennessee for the Great American
Air Show, which begins Saturday.
His death rocked the community, and was the first fatal crash involving a Blue Angels pilot in nearly a decade.
The noon start of the air show was delayed for a short time as
organizers waited out the rain. Hundreds of spectators waiting on the
flight line, huddled under umbrellas and protected by ponchos in an
attempt to stay dry.
Raymond Holliman of Rockfield, Kentucky, has driven to the airshow in Smryna each year since 2008. The Blue Angels, he said, were always the draw. Holliman wore a Blue Angels shirt, donned a Blue Angels hat and waved a Blue Angels flag.
He and his wife were at home Thursday and saw the news of the crash that killed Kuss.
“We were shocked,” he said. “It blew our minds.
“I’m thankful for his service. All these guys. They’re representing the United States of America. We wanted to come down here and honor him today.”
The airshow began about 1 p.m., the rain clearing to sunny skies.