Two years ago Marine captain and Blue Angel pilot Jeff Kuss died in a tragic air crash while practicing for Smyrna’s Great Tennessee Air Show.

Since then the Town of Smyrna felt there was only one way to honor him.

On Friday, that tribute moved closer to completion.

It started with an idea and was put together with $1.5 million in donations, most of which came from the people of Smyrna.

In a way, the dream took flight on Friday.

High technology and precision - two things the Blue Angels are all about - is what it will take to lift the 21,000 pound F-18 Hornet jet.

The plane is a replica of the one that crashed in Smyrna, killing Kuss.

“The tragedy happened here. It’s our way of paying respect to him and the Blue Angels,” said one Smyrna resident watching the jet being set on the platform. “They mean a lot to Smyrna, been here many times.”

It is a proud moment for the people of Smyrna to see this actually happen. There were donations, car washes, luncheons, cookie sales and pumpkin patches utilized to help raise more than $1 million to get it done.

Smyrna supporters put on their $15 fundraising T-shirts with the pilot’s name included and watched his legacy and service to the country be honored here for years.

“These kids may not know now, but later on my daughter and others will look around and know he was well appreciated,” said a Smyrna resident.

The Blue Angels aircraft is on permanent loan from the National Navy Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

The official dedication of the memorial takes place on Saturday, June 9 at 10 a.m. at the Lee Victory Recreation Park.

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