The Blue Angels will be making a return to the Midstate to be part of the Great Tennessee Air Show from June 8-9.

The last time they were here in 2016, one of their pilots crashed during a practice run before the show and died.

A memorial is now in place near the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority to honor Capt. Jeff Kuss.

News4 spoke with one of the witnesses from the crash.

Blue Angels

The Blue Angels will appear at the 2019 Great Tennessee Air Show (Photo: Great Tennessee Air Show)

“Anyone who has an ounce of patriotism had to have felt it," Debra Trammel, who witnessed the crash, said.

It feels like yesterday to Trammel and her husband, David. The couple lives less than a mile from the airport.

John Black, Executive Director for the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport, was at the airport that day.

“Very emotional for everyone here, but we’re just glad to have them back," Black said.

Since then, Black said Smyrna has become a second hometown for the Blue Angels.

“That’s what’s really come out of all this. You didn’t really realize just how deep this air show ran in the fabric of this community," Black said.

For people like the Trammels, the memorial is a reminder to never forget what happened.

“I hope that it'll be something that folks from Smyrna are going to remember for many, many decades," Trammel said.

The memorial isn't the only way they're remembering Captain Kuss.

The community hosted the first Top Gun Night Run 6K in his honor on Friday.

News4 learned the event raised around $40,000. That'll go toward the upkeep of the memorial. 

If you would like to attend the Great Tennessee Air Show, tickets for the event are sold online.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Cameron Taylor is a national Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist who joined the News 4 team in December 2018.

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