On November 14, 1970 Southern Airways Flight 932 crashed into a hillside near Huntington, WV. The plane departed from Greenville, NC where the Marshall University football team had played a game against Eastern Carolina University. All 75 people on board were killed including most of football team, the coaching staff, members of the media & several team supporters. It was a very sad day in the history of Huntington, and the entire tri-state area and one of if not THE biggest tradgedies to hit the area.
I was 11 yrs old at the time. I remember seeing reports on the news and reading about it in the newspaper. The plane crashed and burned near the airport where it was supposed to land. It was and I guess still is the biggest emergency response to date. Not too much goes on around here of that nature thank goodness.
Later, the Memorial Student Center was built in honor of those people. A prominent artist sculpted a fountain that sits on the campus side of the student center. During the memorial ceremony held every year on this date, the fountain is turned off and stays off until April 21, the first day of spring. The campus was jammed today at noon for this years service. Friends & family of those on board, many community members and people from all over campus spend an hour remembering. That includes many of the firefighters and other emergency folks who responded that night. One of Ceredo's trucks was sitting on campus today with a black wreath on the grill. That always gives me gooseflesh & makes me proud too. The football coach puts a wreth at the fountain and they lay flowers around it. It is a pretty moving sight. Like any such ceremony, there are speakers and music & prayer. The speaker today was Joe Johns. Joe is a CNN Washington news correspondant who graduated from Marshall University in the 80s. This is also homecoming weekend, Joe will be the grand marshall of the homecoming parade. There is a lot going on on campus these days. The campus is the center of the community, still.
The football team lost to ECU last weekend in OT. They are still MUs rivals only now we are in Conference USA.
Many who visit the University say that if we want to recruit more students we should change the name of the student center and stop having services every year to honor people killed in 1970. (Part of this "tradition" is also about the weather & the fountain not freezing.) It is still a part of Marshall. Today I left the library intending to go to the memorial but there were many many people. I wanted to hear the University Chorus sing. My son is a member of the chorus but I don't hear him sing as often as I can see the band. Even though we are both on campus, I do have to work. Its kind of hard to find a particular tuba player out of 18 or 20 tubas on a field of 266 band members. Ok, so I'm proud of my kid & proud that I work at Marshall University. There!! I almost bleed green and I do have a collection of buffalo. You know, the Thundering Herd, the mascot. There is a life size, stuffed (taxidermist style) buffalo in the book store. You should see the Harley covered in the buffalo hide with the head on the handlebars that rides through town before the games.
In 2006, Joseph McGinty Nichol directed and produced a movie written by Jamie Linden, titled WE ARE MARSHALL. We Are Marshall is still the University motto and the cheers rock the stadium at every football game. Its a good movie most of which was filmed right here in Huntington. Of course it means more to those of us affiliated with the University. I can tell you that it is worth watching & is available on DVD if you are looking for a decent picture. Part of the time the filming was a P I A with the streets being blocked off or certian parts of the campus or down town. They used local folks for a lot of the parts, crowd scenes etc. The City's fire chief is in a scene or two. The fire trucks in the movie really are from around here. They brought in 60s model cars & redid the inside of the student center to make it look like it would have back then. They did a retro of a couple of blocks of the down town area where they were filming. The movie theather was the Keith Alby and it is still there. It was remodeled back to its 70s era. They held the movie premier there. Wow! That was a big deal for Huntington with all those Hollywood types visiting. Matthew McConaughey is one of my favorite actors & Kimberly Williams Paisley who is the wife of one of WVs favorite sons, country music star Brad Paisley is also in the film.
If you are a sports buff there is another movie called From Ashes to Glory that is about Marshall and the rebuilding of the football program & the National titles won during the Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwhich, Randy Moss era under Bobby Pruitt & others. (I can't think of other NFL players from MU) Troy Brown has retired from New England & lives here these days. Last year in the super bowl there were 5 MU alumni playing, between the two teams. I'm not much of an NFL fan but I love my HERD. The game is on TV tomorrow. I would rather sit on my couch, warm & cozy watching the game than shivering on the metal bleachers with my back hurting. I usually only go to one game a year but that is fun too. I will take the my niece (6ys old) & nephew (2 yrs) to see the parade tomorrow if the weather cooperates. They love MARSHALL and the parade has some of their favorite things, marching bands and fire trucks.
On September 11, 2001 American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. On that plane was Dr. Paul Ambrose a native of Huntington, WV and graduate of Marshall University & Marshall University School of Medicine. He was a senior clinical advisor with the Office of the Surgeon General who worked toward improving health care in his country and had recieved a congressional medal of honor for research in obesity in children in the US.
There is a new Student Health & Wellness center on campus. It hasn't been named yet but the students, staff and facutly want it to be named the Paul Ambrose Health & Wellness Center in his honor. Unless the Board of Governors decide to sell the name.
When I remember September 11, 2001, I don't remember only the firefighters & others in NYC who were lost. It also hit very close to home all the way back in WV.
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