SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Community leaders in Smyrna broke ground Wednesday on a memorial to Marine Captain Jeff Kuss. The Blue Angels pilot lost his life during a training exercise in June 2016.
The groundbreaking began with a ceremony at Lee Victory Park at 2 p.m. and was open to the public. About 75 people attended.
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.
“The town of Smyrna is so excited that we are here this day. It’s sad for the reason that we even have to have a day like today, but the community is proud of the way we rallied together to find a way to honor Captain Jeff Kuss and I think the groundbreaking today lays that foundation for the memorial that we are going to see in a couple months,” said Mary Esther Reed, the Mayor of Smyrna.
“He went down when he could have done something else. He saved a lot of people and I think it’s just a great thing for this city and for the community just to have a monument like this in honor of him, in honor of our military in general,” said Richard Wise, a Smyrna resident who attended the ceremony.
“That field will never be looked at the same,” added Jerry Boone.
“I can probably say there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. I pass 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.