Lt. Matt Suyderhoud: Our first flight back from tragedy will be above Pensacola


(WKRG) — In an emotional address, the right wing pilot for the Blue Angels tearfully thanked Pensacola for its support during the tragic loss of Captain Jeff Kuss.

Lt. Matt Suyderhoud added that the Blue Angels first flight back from the loss of Kuss will be in the skies above Pensacola, though no date has been announced.

The announcement brought a huge round of applause at Thursday night’s candlelight vigil for Kuss, killed one week ago when his F-A 18 Hornet crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee. Lt. Suyderhoud, who flies in the Number 2 jet, got emotional as he remembered the pilot they knew as “Kooch.”

“It is right to celebrate his life and legacy, a legacy that lives on in his wife and two children,” said Suyderhoud. “And certainly in our hearts as we garner strength from his memory to rise from the ashes of this tragedy.”

Suyderhoud became overwhelmed with emotion when talking about the support the Blue Angels have received from the people of Pensacola.

“The time to mourn is now, but when that time is over, when that time is right, we will be back in the skies of this great nation. We will fly like warriors. We will not be scared, because we’ll have Jeff on one wing, and the [city of Pensacola] on the other. But before we do that, before we get in the skies again, we will be in the skies of Pensacola because this is our home {applause} and we are your team. God Bless Jeff. God Bless Pensacola. God Bless America.” – Lt. Matt Suyderhoud,

The Blue Angels have suspended their 2016 schedule, however, could be in the air again in time for the Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 16.

The funeral for Kuss is Saturday in his hometown of Durango, Colorado. The cause into the crash that claimed his life is ongoing.

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