Parents of Blue Angel pilot remember son: "He wanted to fly sinc - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Parents of Blue Angel pilot remember son: "He wanted to fly since he was born"

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Blue Angels pilot Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss. AP photo Blue Angels pilot Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Kuss. AP photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Porch lights in Smyrna glow blue for a second night of six in a row to honor Marine Captain Jeff Kuss: Top Gun graduate, war veteran, and pilot of the Blue Angels' F/A-18 #6.

On Friday, Kuss, 32, was remembered by his flight leader as "truly one of the finest Americans this country can produce."

Many on the ground, though, call him a hero, saying he stayed with his wounded fighter instead of ejecting.

Kuss found a vacant field near the Historic Sam Davis Home and Plantation, amid neighborhoods, an apartment complex, a school, and the rest of metro Nashville, to put the jet down.

Nashville landmarks are lit blue and gold for the fallen pilot and his grieving team, which flew home to Pensacola this afternoon.

READ MORE | Investigation continues into deadly Blue Angels jet crash

Janet and Michael Kuss smile while remembering their son.

"When he became a Marine, Aviator, and then Blue Angel, we weren't that surprised," Janet Kuss said of her son, Marine Captain Jeff Kuss. "Very proud, but not that surprised."

The Blue Angel pilot was killed after his jet crashed on Thursday, while practicing for an air show in Middle Tennessee.

"He wanted to fly since he was born," Janet said. "His first toys were jets."

Several reports say the jet crashed shortly after takeoff, and narrowly missed nearby buildings before exploding into flames.

"I'm sure he was cognizant of what was going on and made sure that he did the best he could to minimize whatever was going to happen," said Kuss' father, Michael.

Channel 3 has learned the pilot likely flew over Chattanooga last September, when the Blue Angels paid tribute to the Fallen 5.

"We're almost positive that the same team was the one that flew over Chattanooga Unite," said Chip Baker, Friends of the Festival Executive Director.

Despite the tragedy, officials announced the air show will go on this weekend -- without the Blue Angels.

The pilot's parents take comfort knowing their son died doing what he loved.

"(Knowing that) your son is up there doing what he has dreamed of his whole life. And how happy he is to do it," Janet said. "And how proud he is to be a Marine and serve his country."

Kuss leaves behind a wife, 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.

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