File-Marshall plane crash

In this Nov. 15, 1970 file photo, Dr. Donald Dedmon, acting president of Marshall University, stands at podium in Huntington, West Virginia as he speaks with friends and relatives of those killed in the plane crash that killed 75 people a day earlier and 36 Marshall football players. 

(The Center Square) – Nov. 14 will now be a special memorial day in West Virginia after Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill memorializing the 75 from Marshall University who died in a 1970 plane crash on the way home from a football game at East Carolina.

House Bill 2412 was approved last week by the West Virginia Senate as several Senators shared their memories of Nov. 14, 1970.

Sen. Michael Woelfel, D-Cabell, was a freshman at Marshall at the time and said that he thought about heading to the crash site after hearing the news because he didn’t know what else to do to help.

He said that the 2006 movie “We Are Marshall” brought up old wounds and led to healing for the community, which he thinks the memorial day can do as well.

“That movie brought a lot of people back together to deal with the loss, and they did it collectively,” Woelfel said. “So I think this is another step along that healing process.”

The movie highlighted how Marshall received NCAA approval to be the only school allowed to play freshman as the Young Thundering Herd kept the football program alive under new coach Jack Lengyel, played by Matthew McConaughey, and Assistant Coach William “Red” Dawson, who wasn’t on the flight as he went on a recruiting trip.

Minority Whip Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, pointed out that the crash impacted the entire community and more than football players were on the flight, noting that 64 children lost one or both parents that night.

Staff Reporter

Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.