Marshall University observes 52nd anniversary of football team, booster plane crash

Marshall University observes 52nd anniversary of football team, booster plane crash
Marshall University observes 52nd anniversary of football team, booster plane crash(WSAZ)
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 3:54 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - It’s a somber day in the city of Huntington, as Marshall University pauses to honor the 75 lives lost in the biggest sports tragedy in American history.

On Nov. 14, 1970, a plane carrying Thundering Herd coaches, teammates and supporters crashed into a hillside as it approached Tri-State Airport in Wayne County.

Monday was the annual fountain ceremony, where the Memorial Student Center fountain is turned off until spring.

“In the middle of the school, there is a fountain. Each day at the exact same day at the exact same hour, the water to this fountain is turned off,” said Marshall University President Brad D. Smith, quoting the We Are Marshall movie. “In this moment, once every year, throughout the town, throughout the school, time stands still.”

The Herd family gathered together to commemorate the 75 lives lost.

“There was a large crowd, much larger than I expected,” said student body vice president Walker Tatum. “To be able to look around and see the students standing in the back, I think it just speaks volumes for them showing their support.”

The keynote speaker was Vince Carelli. His dad, Al Carelli, was on the plane that night 52 years ago, just a few months after accepting a position as an offensive line coach at Marshall.

“I am totally inspired by how this university instills in its culture, in its students, the honor in which you grab onto the fact that the 75 and this tragedy didn’t define this school,” Carelli said. “You just carry it on with such honor, it’s just very impressive.”

A rose was placed for each of the lives lost surrounding the fountain, each one called out by name.

“When it comes to Marshall University and what our foundation is, it focuses a lot on that plane crash,” Tatum said. “Just as Matt James (Marshall University Executive Director of Alumni Relations) mentioned in his speech, he said sometimes people think Marshall’s story is just one of tragedy, but that was just chapter one.”

Marshall University will be playing the We Are Marshall movie in the student center Monday evening in honor of the anniversary.