A fallen Blue Angels pilot was honored with a touching memorial at the Smyrna airfield where he died in a crash two years ago.

It will forever remind citizens of the courage, honor, and legacy of Capt. Jeff Kuss.

A crowd gathered at the memorial for a dedication ceremony Saturday at Lee Victory Recreation Park. That’s where Kuss' Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet is now on permanent loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

Kuss died in June 2016 when his jet crashed during a practice run for the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna. It’s a day many will never forget.

"I was flying that day with him on June 2nd and I actually saw him go in, and it's been a very challenging two years for all of us just like it has been here,” Kuss’ partner Capt. Ryan Bernacchi explained.

For everyone, Saturday's ceremony was a step toward healing.

Active and retired military were on hand to pay their respects, as well as Capt. Kuss' wife, Christina. This was her first visit to Smyrna since her life was changed forever by her husband’s death.

The ceremony also included a special flyover by Capt. Kuss' former marine fighter attack squadron, The Checkerboards.

Kuss was a decorated pilot who accumulated more than 1,400 flight hours and 175 carrier landings. He served in Afghanistan and earned the Strike/Flight Air Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during his time in the military.

Kuss later joined the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron in September 2014 and flew as Opposing Solo for the 2016 team.

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Lindsey Nance joined the News4 team in June 2018 as a reporter, videographer and editor focusing on Rutherford County news.

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