SMYRNA, Tenn. – A Blue Angels pilot who died when his F/A-18 fighter jet crashed near Nashville, Tennessee, had wanted to fly since he was a child, relatives said.
A U.S. official identified the pilot killed Thursday as Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
"It's hard to put into words right now, but it's beautiful that a person can live and die engaged in their life's pursuits," said his grandfather, Dolph Kuss, reached at his home in Durango, Colorado. "This was his dream since he was a child, to be an aviator, a flier."
He choked back tears and said he was struggling to gather his thoughts.
"It's hard to celebrate someone's life in this way," he said. "It is certainly a shock. Everything in life has its dangers, I guess."
Kuss was married with two young children, his grandfather said.
It was the second fighter jet crash of the day for the military's elite fighter jet performance teams. A member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds crashed in Colorado after a flyover for the Air Force Academy graduation where President Barack Obama spoke. That pilot ejected safely into a field.
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