Seattle Man Drives To Smyrna To Honor Blue Angels Pilot

Posted: 5:51 PM, Jun 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-08 01:05:03Z
Seattle Man Visits Smyrna To Honor Fallen Pilot
Seattle Man Visits Smyrna To Honor Fallen Pilot

City officials in Smyrna prepared for a large dedication ceremony to unveil the memorial for Captain Jeff Kuss, who died in a plane crash in 2016.

The memorial site next to Lee Victory Recreation Park on Sam Ridley Parkway has a Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet as the centerpiece. 

On Thursday, firefighters planted nearly 500 American flags along the street and throughout the park ahead of the event.

Capt. Kuss died when his plane crashed during a practice for the Great Tennessee Air Show on June 2, 2016. 

Hundreds are expected to be in attendance including former Blue Angels and Kuss' family. Another person expected to attend is Ken Yohe, a Navy veteran who traveled more than 2,400 miles from Seattle to Smyrna just for the ceremony.

He said he will never forget the feeling of hearing the news about Kuss' death.

"Oh, it was just devastating. It felt like someone put their hand on my chest and ripped out my heart," Yohe told NewsChannel 5. 

Yohe described himself as a true Blue Angels fan. He served in the Navy for nearly four years, and remembered seeing a show when he was stationed in Texas. 

"It's kind of like an addiction or an obsession. Once you're hooked there's no cure either, and I don't want there to be a cure," explained Yohe.

His love for the Blue Angels could be felt in the last six years when he would attend air shows with his Mustang decorated in yellow decals. 

After Kuss' death, he continued the tradition but this time, the car got No. 6 for Kuss' jet and "Smyrna, TN or bust" on the back windshield. 

There are many reasons why he would visit Smyrna. Showing his love for Kuss and the military is undoubtedly one of them.

"It's something I wanted to do, and it's something that'll stick with me for the rest of my life," added Yohe. "A lot of it is appreciation, and a lot of it is to give back."

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at Lee Victory Recreation Park. The event is open to the public but the 600 seats available have already been reserved.

Anyone planning to attend is urged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. To learn more, click on this link