RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The United States Air Force F-22 Raptor Demo Team will be honoring the Blue Angels fallen pilot during its performances in Smyrna this weekend.
The Blue Angels were supposed to join the Raptors for a presentation at the Business and Aerospace Building in Murfreesboro Friday morning, but in light of the fatal crash, they cancelled.
On Friday, they held an informational briefing to take questions about the F-22 fighter jet and what they do on a daily basis, but first, a moment of silence was held for Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss.
“I would like for us to take a moment of silence to recognize the pilot of the Blue Angels demonstration team,” said MTSU Vice President of Media Affairs Andrew Oppman.
It was a moment of honor and respect.
“Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. Let’s take a moment to recognize his service to our Nation,” Oppman said.
Kuss lost his life in the horrific crash Thursday in Smyrna.
“We are all close knit and we all take care of each other, and that’s always it has been with the military,” said Raptors Tech Sgt. Johnathan Billie.
The Raptors will honor fallen service members and Kuss with a dedication pass during their performances at this weekend’s Great Tennessee Airshow.
The high-flying F-22 stealth fighter team will be showing off its maneuvers and supersonic speeds, knowing their Blue Angels counterparts won’t be there.
“As a team, we send our condolences to the friends of family of the Blue Angels,” Bille said. “It’s a tragedy, and they lost a great, great, guy.”
Five of the 13 member Raptir team fielded questions from the audience. Civil Air Patrol cadets from Nashville, Murfreesboro, Williamson County and Smyrna also attended.
Many of the young cadets said they are not going to let what happened in Smyrna deter them from fulfilling a life-long dream.
Cadet Carey Juneman said he wants to following in his grandfather’s footsteps. He was a World War II pilot.
“I felt sorry for the pilot and his family,” Juneman said. “I felt saddened for his team, and the pain their must have gone through losing their fellow flyer.
Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Grant served in the Marine Corp for 42 years. He, too, knows the dangers the F-22 Raptors and Blue Angels face.
“It was really sad,” Grant said. “I can’t image what those people are going through.”
The Raptors will perform 22 shows this year. About 12 of them are with the Blue Angels.