This tribute vista was designed to be a living memorial. With proximity to the Town of Smyrna’s active greenway, all of the community, including hundreds of Rutherford County citizens, adult and children alike, frequently travel through the memorial. The ethereal aircraft affixed high above the grounds welcomes visitors and, when illuminated, extends hope and victory throughout the night expanse. The memorial is located within Lee Victory Recreation Park, directly across from the runways at the Smyrna/Rutherford County airport. There are multiple sidewalks connecting the memorial to the existing greenway that runs through the park. An F/A-18C Hornet similar to that flown by Capt. Kuss, on permanent loan to the Town of Smyrna by the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, acts as centerpiece to the memorial. The memorial plaza features hundreds of engraved pavers, as well as steel cutouts displayed under each planter which reflect the military’s core values.
The Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet, BUNO 163498, was installed at the Capt. Jeff Kuss USMC Memorial at Lee Victory Recreation Park on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. All Coast Aircraft Recovery supervised the installation and Maxim Crane provided the crane and support services for the mounting of the aircraft in coordination with CraneWorks who provided ground transport. The 350-ton crane used to lift and mount the aircraft to its pedestal had a telescopic boom length of 210.1 feet, a tip height of 196 feet, and was configured to place the aircraft weighing 21,600 pounds on the memorial pedestal.
The official Dedication Ceremony opening the memorial to the public took place on Saturday, June 9th 2018. The dedication ceremony featured an F/A-18C Hornet flyover by Captain Kuss’ former Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312), the Checkerboards, led by Major Kyle Reilly, Flight Lead and Mission Commander.
The dedication program also featured guest speakers Commander Mike Campbell, President of the Blue Angels Foundation, Captain Ryan Bernacchi, 2016-2017 Commanding Officer and Flight Leader of the Blue Angels, and Christina Kuss, wife of Captain Jeff Kuss. Music was provided by the Stewarts Creek High School Band and Chorale. In addition, active and retired military personnel from the Marines, Navy, and Blue Angels were in attendance to pay tribute to Captain Jeff Kuss.
“This was a special day in history for the Town of Smyrna and its people, as well as for the Kuss family,” said Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed. “Raising money for the $1.4 million memorial was a grassroots effort that began in Smyrna and Rutherford County, then expanded throughout the state and culminated with donations from across the country.”
In addition, a curriculum has been created and approved by the Rutherford County Board of Education for students throughout Tennessee to learn about Capt. Jeff Kuss, the Blue Angels and the Town of Smyrna. We anticipate Tennessee schools and others journeying on field trips to this site. We envision that this memorial will serve as a beacon and celebration of the strong values held by Captain Kuss, the US Navy Blue Angels and US Marine Corps — Honor, Courage, Commitment, & Excellence. We encourage people of all ages to visit, reflect, and be inspired to live out these values.
By this memorial, the Town of Smyrna and its citizens are proud to honor the legacy of Marine Captain Jeff Kuss. Kuss was a fearless leader, a son, a brother, a husband, a father and a hero. It is with great honor that the Town of Smyrna hereby pays tribute to his legacy. The Capt. JeffKuss USMC Memorial can be visited day or night within Lee Victory Recreation Park. Daily Park Hours are 6:00am – 11:00pm (subject to close due to inclement weather).