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Capt. Jeff Kuss Memorial to break ground in Smyrna

The Blue Angels pilot from Durango died in June 2016

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Capt. Jeff Kuss U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Memorial will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, at Lee Victory Recreation Park, 110 Sam Ridley Parkway East, in Smyrna, Tennessee.

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss, a Blue Angels pilot from Durango, died June 2, 2016, after his plane went down during preparation for the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna. He was 32 years old.

“We are excited to announce over $1 million has been raised through corporate and private sector contributions for The Kuss Memorial to celebrate the life and career of this American hero,” Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed said in a news release.

A Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet, similar to the jet that was flown by Captain Kuss, will be on permanent display at the memorial site.

“The outpouring of support from the people of Tennessee humbles me,” Christina Kuss, Capt. Kuss’ widow, said in a news release. “They have wrapped us in so much love that I am inspired and grateful. Jeff was the perfect example of the Blue Angels’ mission of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach. He was able to live out his dreams and was my inspiration. This memorial will honor his life and distinguished military service to our country and hopefully encourage kids to pursue their dreams.”

Rear Admiral Jimmie Taylor, retired from the U.S. Navy, will give a speech and the Stewarts Creek High School Chorale is scheduled to perform. The public is welcome to attend the groundbreaking.

Kuss was born in Durango and graduated from Fort Lewis College. He was a decorated pilot who joined the Blue Angels in 2014.

Before the Blue Angels, Kuss served in Afghanistan and accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours, had 175 landings on aircraft carriers and was awarded the Strike Flight Air Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He dreamed of being a pilot during his childhood, and earned a pilot’s license before he had a driver’s license.

Kuss is survived by his wife, Christina; children, Calvin and Sloane; parents, Janet and Michael; and brother, Eric.

To contribute to the memorial, visit www.captjeffkussusmcmemorial.com.

fstone@durangoherald.com

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