HUNTINGTON -– The 75 victims of the 1970 Marshall University plane crash will be honored at the annual memorial service conducted by MU's Student Government Association at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14 on the Huntington campus.
The service will take place on the Memorial Student Center plaza on the 40-year anniversary of the crash, which occurred at about 7:47 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, 1970. A DC-9 jetliner, returning Marshall home from its football game at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., clipped some treetops just short of Tri-State Airport and went down. Victims included Marshall football players, coaches, staff and supporters, along with the crew of five.
Patrick Murphy, a New York native and president of Marshall's student body, said he knows how important the annual memorial service is to the surviving family members and the entire MU community.
"I have tried to plan the ceremony with the utmost sincerity and empathy for what I hope will be a memorial service that properly honors the victims and their families," Murphy said. "I have met so many people that have been affected by the events of November 14th and feel extremely honored to be given the opportunity and privilege to be a part of something that means so much to so many people."
Mickey Jackson, president of the Marshall University Alumni Association and a former running back and assistant coach for the Thundering Herd, will be the keynote speaker at the service. He was an assistant coach for the 1970 Thundering Herd and missed the flight from Greenville because he, along with assistant coach Carl Kokor, was scouting future Marshall opponent Ohio University in its game with Penn State.
"I am very proud and honored to have been asked to deliver the message – a very important message that needs to be repeated every year," Jackson said. "And that message is that we should never, ever forget those who lost their lives while contributing to the Marshall University football program."
Jackson said he always has mixed emotions when attending the memorial service.
"It is very inspirational to remember those folks and the relationships," he said. "But, it is very, very sad at the same time. When they place the wreath at the fountain and the water stops, my heart just stops beating."
Jackson, a 1968 Marshall graduate, played football for the Thundering Herd from 1964 through 1966. He gained 1,231 yards rushing for his career and scored 24 touchdowns. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, and formerly was backfield coach for legendary Coach Woody Hayes at Ohio State University.
Joining Murphy and Jackson as speakers will be Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp, Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick, and head football Coach Doc Holliday.
The service will conclude with the traditional placing of the memorial wreath at the Memorial Fountain. The fountain will be silenced after the laying of the wreath, and remain silent until next spring.