TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The crew of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City is honoring the memory of Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, the pilot of U.S. Navy Blue Angel #6, by placing a Blue Angels style number 6 on each of their MH-65 Dolphin helicopters during the 90th annual National Cherry Festival taking place this weekend.
Kuss died in a crash during a training flight June 6, 2016.
The air station’s decision to place the decals on the helicopters was made shortly after the Blue Angels announced they would be coming to Traverse City for the airshow in a press release, June 25. Their first airshow since Kuss’ death.
“As naval aviators, we go through flight school with officers of our fellow sea services,” said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Wilson, the operations officer at Air Station Traverse City. “It’s a tight knit community. We wanted to do something to honor his memory and show the team we were alongside them mourning the loss of one of our own.”
“Coast Guard aircrews are exposed to dangerous flight regimes and it could have easily been one of our own,” Wilson continued. “We wanted something silent. Something that the team could choose to accept as a token of our condolences or not, depending on how they mourn his loss.”
According to Wilson, the Blue Angels crew was happy to see the 6 displayed and were very appreciative of the gesture.
The logo’s were donated by a local design company that wanted to do what they could to help the healing and show Traverse City’s appreciation.
Coast Guard and Blue Angels crews will wrap up the airshow with one final performance, Monday, as part of Independence Day festivities for the National Cherry Festival.