Today is the 43rd Anniversary of the Marshall Plane Crash

By DJ Byrnes on November 14, 2013 at 11:42a
Newspaper of that fateful day.

From Marshall's Rivals Site, Herd Nation, ran a reproduction of The Huntington Herald Advertiser ran following the biggest tragedy to ever strike college football. Here's a snippet:

The plane was returning the Marshall football players, most of the coaching staff and a group of supporters from Greenville, N. C., where East Carolina University defeated the Marshall team Saturday afternoon.

The crash occurred about 7:45 p. m. less than a mile west of Tri-State Airport. Weather conditions were poor and light rain was falling.

The Herald-Advertiser's Jack Hardin, the first reporter at the scene some 250 yards east of W. Va. 75 south of Kenova, said:

"There's nothing here but charred bodies. It's terrible."

Bodies and wreckage were scattered over a wide area.

Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. and Dr. Donald N. Dedmon, Marshall's acting president, rushed to the scene.

Hardin reported a piece of the plane was found on a hillside about a half-mile from the principal crash site. He said sections of bodies also were reported found there, too. Searchers were combing the hillside early this morning with the aid of flares.


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Buckeye Elite's picture

As a student at Marshall University, this made my day to see the Buckeye faithful showing support of this horrible event. We have the greatest fan in the world. Go Bucks!!! O-H-I-O!!!!!!!

"Clear eyes, Full heart, Can't lose!"
                                  - Friday Night Lights


My dad got his masters at Marshall around that time and he remembers that day like it was yesterday. It still makes him tear up.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

doodah_man's picture

This is my nightmare scenario...whole team, coaches, and some boosters. Admittedly so, the Marshall fiasco was as a result of a less than legit air charter and equipment. I can't imagine what it would be like to experience not only the tragedy of losing so many young talented lives but the rebuilding years thereafter....   

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

OSUStu's picture

Hearing about this tragedy always spooks me.  My dad actually was offered to play football at Marshall during this time period.  He declined.  I can only assume he would have been on that plane, and I'd have never happened.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

hetuck's picture

Don't forget it happened to Wichita State in the same year. It took half the team because a pilot decided to go sightseeing in the Rockies. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

WOLFofOHIO's picture

they will be remembered. now and forever

there is no greater joy than watching Michigan get slammed. in anything

TheHannimal's picture

This tragedy is near and dear to my hear.  My grandpa played football for Marshall...and was in the Air National Guard in Huntington and helped clean up the wreckage after the crash.
He cannot and will not watch "We Are Marshall" as it is still to raw for him to this day.
Also, I attended Marshall before transferring to Ohio Marshall is my 2nd favoirite team.  I went from Chad Pennington/Randy Moss to the 02 national title at I am calling myself a collegiate football good luck charm.  
Anyhow, this was a terrible tragedy.  Glad it's still remembered and thought of, as it was devastating to that town/college.

Hovenaut's picture

Went with my wife to see "We Are Marshall" - didn't know all that much about the tragedy prior to that. 
I'm sure there were some artistic liberties taken in the film, but I left the theater in tears that night. 
I'll forever be humbled at the perseverance of the Marshall community through the loss...Go Herd. 

JeffCoBuck's picture

There were some artistic liberties, as you said, but they do not take away from the story itself.  In my estimation, though, the actual story was about as Hollywood as you can get.  The story wrote itself.  The game-winning play against Xavier really did happen on the final play of the game and zeroes on the clock.  The players that the coaching staff grabbed off the campus and the volunteers who came out to keep the program alive, some of them really did know almost nothing about football.  For example, after the final TD, the field goal kicker found Coach Lengyel, wide-eyed and panicked, and asked him, "Coach, Coach!  Don't we have to kick the extra point?"  I really thought they should have worked that into the movie somehow, to underscore the obvious youth of the team in '71.  There was some really naivete and inexperience among the Young Thundering Herd.  If you can find it, I recommend watching "Ashes to Glory".  It's an Emmy-winning documentary about the crash, the next season, the success they attained years later.

JTownBuckeye's picture

My high school history teacher, Bob Dardinger, had a brother on the plane. I remember someone tried to talk to him about it in high school and he wouldn't speak about it. I do believe however he was interviewed for a Dispatch article a few years ago.

Buckeyefan9973's picture

My high school football coach was supposed to be on that plane.  The Home Ec teacher was engaged to one of the players and still wore her engagement ring 25 years later. 

unholy bucknut's picture

It was a sad tragedy. Hopefully those poor souls are never forgotten.

JeffCoBuck's picture

I have been an Ohio State fan my entire life (I was born at University Hospital while my dad was in dental school at tOSU), but the way things worked out, I ended up attending Marshall University from 1992-1996.  I knew literally nothing about the plane crash when I got there, but after having spent time there, I can say that 43 years later, it really does still affect people in Huntington and at Marshall.  When I was there, it had been 22 years since the crash, but it still impacted many, many people in the community.  Not that everyone walked around moping all the time, but you could just tell that it did.  When you're 20 years old, as I was when I enrolled at MU, 22 years is ancient history.  As I've gotten older, I can see that twenty-two years was still close enough to the event to be painful.  Being there really helped me to appreciate just what the school and city endured.  Ohio State will always be my #1, but Marshall and The Herd are my #1A.
As far as people who say, "Geez, it's been 43 years - let it go," or "You've mourned long enough," (not that anyone that has commented here has said anything like that, but I know some people feel that way), let me assure you that the tragedy is part of Marshall's fabric.  It wasn't just members of the team and coaching staff - there were boosters and community leaders on that plane.  It devastated the city as well as the school.  It's one thing to begin a football program from scratch because you want one.  It's another thing entirely to start one because you lost most of it due to a catastrophic tragedy.  For Marshall to rebuild when many thought they should just walk away from the gridiron, and then to achieve the heights of success they achieved in the '90s is the ultimate comeback story.  That's why Marshall doesn't run from the story or get tired of it.  It's part of who and what Marshall is.
In closing, I want to tip my cap to the Eleven Warriors staff for drawing attention to this.  Ohio State and Marshall are in two different places, competitively.  Ohio State draws a bead on the national championship every year, while Marshall's goals are less lofty, although not less important to them.  It would be easy for an Ohio State-dedicated site to not bring it up at all, but you did, and I think it's great.  I love that I get to watch/follow Braxton Miller and Rakeem Cato every Saturday.  I am very spoiled by outstanding QB play.