Memorial for Fallen Blue Angel Opens in Smyrna


On Saturday, June 9, a dedication and unveiling ceremony was held in Smyrna, Tennessee for the new Captain Jeff Kuss United States Marine Corps Memorial at Lee Victory Recreation Park. The ceremony came two years after Kuss was killed during a practice flight ahead of the Great Tennessee Air Show in 2016.

The $1.4 million memorial, funded entirely by donations, consists of an F/A-18C Blue Angel Hornet on a memorial pedestal standing in the center of a park. The 21,600 pound aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola.

“A lot of people throughout the community did a lot of hard work to make this happen and it was an honor for me to be part of that committee,” Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Executive Director John Black said.

The F-18 Hornet is lowered onto its pedestal ahead of the memorial’s opening.


The dedication ceremony included a missing man formation by Captain Kuss’s old squadron from MCAS Beaufort and reflections by his family.

According to Black, the memorial has already begun serving an additional purpose in teaching young students about aviation and STEM careers. One local school principal has begun integrating the memorial into a new STEM curriculum that teaches students about aviation through a visit to the memorial site in conjunction with a tour of the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport.

For more information on the memorial and to donate, please visit

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