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Marines create scholarship in memory of Blue Angel pilot

This
May 19 photo shows Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss at an airshow in Lynchburg,
Va. A Blue Angels F/A-18 fighter jet crashed Thursday near Nashville,
killing the pilot. A U.S. official said the pilot was Kuss.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has announced
the creation of the Capt. Jeff “Kooch” Kuss USMC Memorial Scholarship. The Blue Angel pilot was killed in a crash June 2 during practice for the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna.
Kuss left behind his wife, Christina Kuss, and their children, Calvin and Sloane.
“When
we learned of the captain’s death, we knew our Heroes Tribute Scholar
Program for the children of the fallen would apply to his children. But
in addition, we set up a scholarship in his honor,” said Margaret Davis,
president and CEO of the scholarship foundation.
“Mrs. Kuss … is honored that we are doing this for her husband’s memory,” Davis said.
Davis
said a donor quickly stepped up to establish a scholarship in Kuss’
honor for children who qualify for the Marine Corps scholarship program,
Davis said.
Since then another donor has come forward to add to Kuss memorial scholarship fund, she noted.
“Many
people are contacting us that they’d like to help with the scholarship
in his memory. So it will be as large as possible and hopefully support
as many recipients as possible. That’s really the way Capt. Kuss’ memory
and legacy will live on,” Davis said.
d.
The Blue Angels Foundation is partnering with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and has given a
“significant contribution” and helped establish a fund for the Kuss children as well, Davis noted.
Marine
Corps Scholarship Foundation monies are need-based and go to children
of service members in the Marines and Navy, she said. Approximately
2,000 children are served each year with a total of around $7 million in
funding given. Special consideration is always given to children of
fallen and wounded, she noted.
Scholarship awards range ranges
from $1,500 minimum to $10,000 maximum per year, per student. Students
can also apply to receive scholarships multiple years in a row,
depending on the need. Criteria includes 2.0 grade-point average and
financial need for children attending an accredited educational
institution or trade school.
“All these kids need is a hand up, not a hand out,” Davis said.
Locally,
the Smyrna Town Council has established a committee to determine an
appropriate way to honor Kuss. The community can make suggestions for
the memorial by contacting Holly Earls at holly.earls@townofsmyrna.org
or 615-267-5005. Deadline to submit ideas is June 25. The committee will
meet the week of June 27.
“The town of Smyrna and our citizens see the importance of a memorial
that our citizens as well as the family can be proud of for years go
come. We also feel that it’s very important that our citizens have
input,” said  Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed. “It’s just another
indication of how great our community is. We’re a family here, whether
you live here or not. The Kuss family is now a part of our community
forever and I think that is one of the greatest things about living in
the town of Smyrna.”

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