A picture on the news hardly answers the question, “who was Captain Jeff Kuss,” but dozens of Youtube videos posted by people who met him show just what a remarkable impact the people he encountered.
“[he was] very cordial. Very open. You could tell from some of his comments, he was a family man. He loved his job. He absolutely loved doing what he was doing,” Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte said in one Youtube video recalling his flight with Kuss.
When Kuss flew the #7 jet, he took several public officials and reporters on a roughly hour-long thrill ride in the sky. Some of his passengers have posted videos recalling how comforting and friendly Kuss was during the flight.
“We talked a lot. He mentioned his wife and his two kids,” KHON2 Honolulu’s Justin Cruz recalled the conversations he had with Kuss in the sky. “He had visited the islands. He loved his time here in the islands.”
Kuss left behind his wife, Christina, and two small children pursuing the dream he held his entire life.
In a Youtube video posted by the U.S. Navy in 2015, Kuss talked about that dream to fly. ” I started flying when I was a young kid, always had a love for it,” Kuss said in the video. “worked really hard through school, went to college and eventually joined the military and I wanted to fly the fastest meanest thing I could, and that’s why I’m here today. ”
One of his former teachers spoke about how she wanted to pass on some of his determination to her future students. “I had hoped to get Jeff to sign a picture of him and his plane this fall so I could put it up in my office so I could tell people the Jeff story to inspire them to be as aggressive about achieving what was possible,” she said.
You didn’t have to personally know Kuss to know he was nothing short of heroic. You can tell that by the hundreds who stood in the rain in Smyrna, TN, as his casket was rolled onto the tarmac and by the supporters who turned their eyes to the sky in Pensacola to watch his final somber flyover home. Jeff Kuss will be remembered, not just by his picture on the news, but the countless lives he touched.