Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alum's perspective on memoir: 'My life is richer'

By Gary Sweeney
       During Marshall’s Homecoming weekend in October, my wife (Anne) and I got to visit a very good friend – Maurice Cooley – who we cultivated a lasting friendship with during our days at MU. Maurice serves our alma mater today with his enthusiastic leadership in helping black students gain an education at our beloved Marshall [as director of the Student Relations Center].
       Maurice escorted me and Anne to the on-campus bookstore to meet Craig Greenlee. Craig and I are graduates of Marshall's W. Page Pitt School of Journalism & Mass Communications. But because I’m a few years older, we never had any journalism classes together. 
       Craig had a book signing for November Ever After on Homecoming Day. His book is unlike others that have documented the heartache that Huntington, West Virginia faced during those dark times which started on the night of November 14, 1970.  It's about the tragedy that we – as young students – did not know how we should act or react. Most of us had never been forced to deal with the emotions associated with death. Not only that, but we had to come to grips with losing most of our football team and coaches, our classmates and friends. Some of us had friends whose parents were passengers on that ill-fated flight.Click here to view "Video Tribute to the 75"
        I’m happy I that purchased a copy of Craig's book.  Not long after Homecoming, we traveled to Texas to see our older daughter (Rebecca), her husband, and three of our wonderful grandchildren. During our visit, I finished the book during the wee hours of quiet nights and early mornings. 
       I laughed.
       I renewed friendships of long days past...
       I cried often! 
       Craig played football for the Herd during our days at Marshall University. He [along with the rest of the large freshman class] was recruited by Coach Perry Moss to become a part of something greater. MU’s undefeated freshman team of 1968 provided tangible proof that the school was serious in its efforts to become a formidable force in college football. 
       Our days in Huntington (West Virginia) were not pleasant ones when it came to football.  Marshall was very close to having the longest losing streak in the nation. Craig was one of many black athletes who accepted Coach Moss's invitation to play football in West Virginia.
      Because Craig had given up the game of football, he was not on board the plane in 1970. I believe God had a new purpose for Craig ... and it would take over forty years before Craig would pen a book about what it was like to be a student at MU and a former Thundering Herd teammate. 
       God has blessed my life often and He continues to do so.  I don't know why Maurice chose to introduce me to Craig Greenlee during Homecoming of 2011. 
       Thank you, Maurice. 
       My life is richer because of November Ever After.

Gary Sweeney is a 1969 graduate of Marshall University.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hokies, Herd are forever linked by night of 11.14.70

       The night of November 14, 1970 forged a permanent connection between Virginia Tech and Marshall University. Two of the coaches who died in the fatal plane crash that decimated most of MU’s football team – Rick Tolley and Frank Loria – played their college ball at V-Tech.
       Tolley, the Thundering Herd’s head coach in ’70, played center and linebacker for the Hokies from 1958-61. Loria, a star safety (1965-67) and the school’s first consensus All-American, was instrumental in leading Virginia Tech to a berth in the 1966 Liberty Bowl. He came to MU as the defensive backs coach in ‘69. Loria also played in the same secondary as Virginia Tech’s legendary coach Frank Beamer.
       Earlier this season, Virginia Tech played an away game at Marshall and cruised to a 30-10 victory. On the day of that game, Beamer paid a visit to the Marshall University Memorial at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia. Beamer placed a 3x5 Hokie Stone at the memorial site to pay homage to the 75 crash victims.
       Tech's players wore special stickers on the back of their helmets for the VT-MU contest. The round stickers bore the initials “RT” and “FL” in recognition of Tolley and Loria, along with the number 75, which represents the number of people who perished.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

East Carolina-Marshall: typically thrilling football

       What it is about the East Carolina-Marshall University football match-up that typically creates an abundance of intrigue? Sure, the two schools are linked because of the tragedy that occurred over 40 years ago when the Thundering Herd’s chartered jet crashed before landing on a return trip from a road game against the Pirates.      
       Fast-forward three decades after the crash and you’ll discover that these two schools were participants in the highest-scoring affair in the history of college bowl games. Byron Leftwich passed for 576 yards and four touchdowns in Marshall’s 64-61 double overtime win over ECU in the 2001 GMAC Bowl played in Mobile, Alabama.
       The most recent intriguing episode occurred on yesterday. The Herd and Pirates entered their regular-season finale against each other with identical 5-6 records. Both teams needed a win to become bowl eligible.
       Marshall’s home crowd at Joan Edwards Stadium got its money’s worth, but there were some anxious moments. ECU scored right before the end of regulation to tie the game at 27 and force overtime. MU answered quickly on a one-yard touchdown run by Tron Martinez. Rakeem Cato’s 24-yard pass to Travon Van set up the game-winning score.
       The Herd’s defense came up big on the next series when East Carolina attempted to produce the equalizer. On fourth and 12, Marshall defensive back Darryl Roberts intercepted a Dominique Davis pass to nullify the scoring threat and preserve a pulsating 34-27 OT victory. Now, it remains to be seen just where Marshall might go for the postseason.
     Van finished with 73 rushing yards on seven carries and a score to go with six receptions for 68 yards. Cato completed 23 of 29 throws for 341 yards, which included a pair of touchdown passes to Aaron Dobson (four receptions for 110 yards). For ECU, Davis threw for 285 yards and three scores, but he also threw three picks, the last of which sealed his team’s fate for a losing season.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

'I have no idea what I would have said in response'

       Coming home for Thanksgiving break during my junior year of college is a time that I’m not likely to ever forget. The 21-hour ride on the Greyhound bus from Huntington, West Virginia to Jacksonville, Florida seemed to take a lot longer than usual.
       But on this occasion, in November 1970, things were far from being normal. Four days prior to catching a bus going south to go home, I was in Waco, Texas to attend the funeral of my best friend, Scottie Reese. Scottie, who played outside linebacker and defensive end, was among the 75 passengers who died in the fatal Marshall University football plane crash.
       The long bus ride to Florida provided me with plenty of time to think and reflect on what had happened. Not that it really mattered. For whatever reason, my mind went blank. And I made a conscious effort to not think about the night when Marshall University lost most of its football team.
       Coming home for that Thanksgiving weekend over 40 years ago is still one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. I remember talking to Andre Alston, a high school football teammate who lived close to the same neighborhood I lived in. I talked to Andre that weekend, and while he never said he was shocked to see me, I do remember his facial expression. He looked at me in such a way as if to assure himself that it was really me that he was talking to.
       “Craig, we thought you were gone.”
       Andre’s comment wasn’t all that surprising. There were only a few people back home who knew that I was no longer playing college football. So, I explained that I decided to walk away from the game, but that I had also decided that I would finish school at Marshall and not transfer somewhere else.
        The whole time I was home, not one person ever asked me any details about what happened on the night of the plane crash. Maybe there was something in my tone of voice or my body language that prevented them from questioning me. And maybe it was a case of folks showing some sensitivity towards someone who had a personal connection with a horrible tragedy. And besides, I was hardly eager to provide any answers.
       Even to this day, I have no idea what I would have said in response to any probing questions my friends may have asked.

Friday, November 25, 2011

'69 Herd stirs up memories of another winless streak

By Woody Woodrum
       The November 10th blog entry about the winless streak the '69 Thundering Herd broke (0-26-1) made me recall a similar streak at Marshall.
       When Marshall joined the Southern Conference in 1977, the Herd went 0-26-1 in the league, only tying Western Carolina 13-13 in 1980 on freshman Barry Childers’ 59-yard field goal (still the longest in NCAA history for a freshman). MU finally broke through in 1981 with a win at Appalachian State.
       For a team that improved to 2-8 on the year, there was a Huntington Police escort into town from the Hurricane (West Virginia) exit and 3,000 or so people waiting for the team at 18th Street in front of Gullickson Hall.
       When coach Sonny Randle was asked if the monkey was off Marshall's back, he replied: "That was no monkey. That was King Kong!"

Woody Woodrum, is the senior editor for the Herd Insider publication and co-host of the Insider Sportsline talk show on WRVC/SuperTalk 94.1FM in the Tri-State (West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Frat brother: 'The Rebel flag was not the KA flag'

By Walter Wooten

       Editor’s Note: Chapter Three of the memoir November Ever After provides a detailed recollection of a bloody brawl between blacks and whites on the Marshall University campus. This confrontation took place on the day before the horrific plane crash that killed most of the school’s football team. In today’s blog entry, a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity who attended MU in the ‘60s, shares his innermost thoughts about this incident, which could have turned into a full-blown race riot.

       The world was definitely changing in the ‘50s and ‘60s with integration in the schools and society as a whole.  I missed that 1970 intramural football game [KAs vs. Black United Students]. My Marshall experiences as an undergraduate and graduate student were wrapped around that era. Like other young men at that time, I was off doing our generation's war (Vietnam). 
       Anyway..... answer me this.  If we (Kappa Alphas) were oriented to the positive lessons to be learned from our spiritual founder, why did we exhibit to outsiders indications of the opposite? 
       The Rebel flag was not the KA flag.
       I still have a picture of our intramural championship football team from 1965 with Mike Chandler standing with the players holding the KA Flag. The choice to use the Rebel flag was an incorrect indicator of our group viewpoint. And it was obviously viewed by others as provocative.
       Even so, this is not sufficient cause for committing illegal acts or bodily assaults. Or, were there those among us who held such beliefs [that blacks could never be viewed as being equals to whites]?  I cannot recall any discussions in our (frat) house or group activities that denigrated blacks or espoused the view that they were inferior in any way. I supported the black athletes who represented Marshall and took school pride in their success.
      I formed a few friendships with black classmates while at Marshall. However, when dealing with groups, our personal beliefs get lost in the appearance. Did the KAs make themselves an easy target for those black students who were exhibiting a newly found pride in their culture?
       As we all graduated and moved in a more integrated society as a whole, we learned the nuances of interaction, cooperation, and friendships that helped us work through these barriers. Having a career in the military makes it impossible to work around racial issues.  Those issues must be faced and resolved. A common ground must be established so that people of different cultural backgrounds can effectively work together to achieve common goals.
      I believe there is a definite place for Kappa Alpha, which was founded on pursuing the exceptional attributes of Robert E. Lee as a model.  Unfortunately, our beer drinking, girl chasing, and overly self-confident approach to life at the time, may have clouded the issue.

       Walter Wooten is an alumnus of Marshall University and a member of the Kappa Alpha Order.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writer responds to fraternity members' comments

     Editor’s Note: The day before the plane crash, there was a scary on-campus racial incident that occurred after an intramural football game involving an-all white fraternity and the school's black student organization. There’s a chapter in the memoir November Ever After which provides a detailed account of this episode. There are members of Kappa Alpha who are not pleased with what was written in the book about their fraternity as it relates to the racial confrontation. In today’s blog entry, I respond to the four KA members whose comments appeared in yesterday's blog.

       Race relations on the Marshall University campus suffered a severe setback when blacks and whites got embroiled in a nasty physical altercation on a Friday the 13th in November of 1970. During the melee, three white males were beaten to the point of having to be admitted to the hospital.
      The Friday fights erupted after a bitterly-fought intramural playoff football game involving the all-white Kappa Alpha Fraternity and Black United Students. The sparks started to fly when three KA pledges ran through a crowd of blacks while waving the Confederate flag.
      There’s an assumption that all the blacks who participated in the fight that day were members of BUS. Not true. A sizeable portion of the blacks who attended that intramural game were from the local community and were not college students.
      The KAs were known for proudly displaying the Confederate flag at public events. For most black people, the Rebel flag served as a grim reminder of the inhumanity of slavery and the vestiges of racism in the Deep South.
       Marshall’s black students made it known that they considered the “Stars & Bars” to be offensive for those reasons. Previous pleas to the MU administration to ban the presence of that flag at school-sponsored events produced no favorable results.
       When those pledges ran through the crowd waving the Rebel Flag, it was viewed by blacks as taunting. The act was also perceived as being deliberate.
       So, was the violence justified?
       No it wasn’t.
       The same can be said for taunting.
      Waving a Confederate flag in front of an angry group of blacks was ill-advised. It just goes to show how a bad decision can bring about the worst of consequences. In this case, nobody (blacks and whites) did the right thing. One wrong did not justify the other.
       As things turned out, race became a non-issue the following night when Marshall’s plane crashed, killing all of the seventy-five passengers on board. At that time, we all learned first-hand that the tragedy was not a black thing; it was not a white thing; it was a death thing, and death does not discriminate. Death is color blind.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fraternity members want to set the record straight

“The KAs, one of the school's largest and most prominent Greek-letter organizations, were known for parading the Confederate flag at public functions. At this game, they stood proudly with the flag. It seemed like they had some sort of alluring allegiance to it. It was as if they were bound by some irrevocable oath to gleefully wave that flag, widely recognized by black folks as a symbol of unbridled bigotry.”

November Ever After
From Chapter Three … Chilly Racial Climate

       Editor’s Note: The day before the plane crash, there was an ugly on-campus racial incident that occurred after an intramural football game involving the all-white fraternity Kappa Alpha Order and Black United Students, the black-student organization at Marshall University.
       The free-for-all started when three white males ran through a crowd of black students waving a Confederate flag. The violence resulted in three white students being admitted to the hospital. There’s a chapter in the memoir November Ever After which provides a detailed account of this episode. On that day, the climate was right for a bloody race riot to take place on the MU campus.
       There are members of the Kappa Alpha Order who are not pleased with what was written in the book about their fraternity as it relates to the racial confrontation.
       Today’s blog entry features comments from four Marshall alumni who are members of the Kappa Alpha Order. I will address their comments in a separate blog entry which will run on tomorrow, November 22nd.
Gary Sweeney
Continued success with your fine book. I enjoyed reading November Ever After and still support it because it’s a good read and because it's the perspective of a college student's experience in dealing with death and losing best friends.
       But I did take exception to your comments that the KAs were racists and how we paraded the Confederate Battle Flag around campus with an attitude of shoving it in folks’ faces!  Our flag was an icon of the old South and its rich history.  I am positive that other races do things that offend whites. However, as young college guys, we did not "slice" people up because we disagreed with their ideas. The Confederate flag was flown by our Marshall Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, just as it was on most campuses that had KA chapters across America.
      You probably don’t know that the Kappa Alpha Order, a religious organization, founded after the life of Robert E. Lee – with the motto of "For God & Womanhood" – was not a brotherhood of bigotry or hatred.  Just ask Maurice Cooley (MU’s Student Relations Center director) about our friendship cultivated during this era.  The KAs, Kappa Alpha Psi (Cooley’s all-black fraternity) and selected sororities always worked side-by-side during Homecoming, building floats for the Homecoming parade.  We were brothers and sisters – black and white!
       I did not know the difficulties that blacks (mostly athletes) faced at Marshall in the late 1960s.  I cannot fully understand what the Confederate flag meant to blacks.  I did not walk in their footsteps nor did I participate in freedom marches during their fight to earn civil rights.  I can only imagine the horror that blacks faced and I get angry when I watch movies of blacks being beaten, having dogs turned on them, and being knocked down with high-pressure water hoses.
       I graduated from Marshall in 1969 and was not on campus when the intramural football game between BUS and the KAs ended in violence, with some of our white brothers being slashed with a knife or razor blade by some BUS members.  At that time, I was stationed at Ft. Lee, Virginia and was on my way to Southeast Asia to represent our great country in a place called Vietnam. I grew up in West Virginia and never witnessed racism until I entered the US Army in 1970.  Perhaps, you found whites to be racist while growing up in Jacksonville, Florida.”

 Mike Chandler
The late ‘60s and early ‘70s brought tremendous change in our lives with the Vietnam Conflict, the Civil Rights movement, the sexual revolution, war protests, etc. 
       Up until that time, the Confederate Battle Flag was nothing more than a symbol of brotherhood, pride and celebration of our spiritual founder, and of the South. All these things helped us to bond together, and made me feel that I was a part of something unique and special.  Perhaps blindly, as I would later learn, I just never associated that symbol in a racially negative way, though I was becoming aware that some others did.
       The summer of 1968 was marred by the Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations. All hell was breaking loose as I began my teaching career that fall in inner-city
Cincinnati, Ohio at a predominately black school.  It certainly could not compare to Vietnam, but there were days I felt deserving of combat pay.
       Looking back, with a better understanding of the history of what was happening around us, I can remember some of the black friends of our youth distancing themselves from us as we got older.  I am certain, they were being instructed by their older generation to “know their place,” just as my mother was telling me the races should not be mixing.  Thank God, at the ripe old age of 92, she has greatly softened that stance. Her world is a better place. Much of her loving physical care is being provided by the off-springs of those she once resented.
       I had the opportunity last winter to spend some time with (black MU graduate) Walt Garnett, who co-owns a Wild Wings restaurant in
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  He has fond memories of Marshall, including several KAs who he considers his friends.  He told me he was the butt of jokes, and wouldn't want to repeat some of the names his own (fraternity) brothers would call him, after a night of partying with his white buddies. 
       For him, it was all in fun, and I am sure he has no regrets.  As I observed him in his restaurant interacting with customers and friends, all of whom were white, it brought comfort in knowing that most of us have moved on from those difficult times and remain united as brothers and Sons of Marshall.
       I will purchase November Ever After, if for no other reason than to get a better sense of the author's perspective.  I heard him doing a radio interview in
Huntington (West Virginia) recently and he has put a lot of time and energy into publishing a history of that brief period of our lives.  And, like Dave (Ferrell), that "incident" – of which I have no personal knowledge – is only a very small fraction of the total work, which deals primarily with the aftermath of the crash.”

Dave Ferrell
I do not recall this incident. At the time, I was en route to Vietnam
       This I do remember.  We took great pride in a lost cause by seeking to achieve those attributes of character and integrity displayed by Robert E. Lee.  When we (Kappa Alphas) flew the Confederate Battle Flag, I never recall any one doing so in a sense of racial hatred or discrimination.  I never even recall any slurs or comments made in the KA house that would smack of racial animosity. 
       Our concerns and focus always centered on a viable fraternity, brotherhood, gaining an education and adapting to a traumatic decade in America.  I still have my KA flag from the 1960's tucked away in a safe place and I still do not consider it a symbol of hatred, even though others may perceive it that way. 
       The brotherhood we shared was greater than any incident that others recall.”

Mark McClellan
I can understand blacks being offended by the Confederate Battle Flag. But I certainly can't accept physical violence as an answer to what they perceived as an insult.  We were pretty young and sometimes thought only of ourselves and not what our actions construed to others. 
       We had one tradition to emulate and others saw it another way.   A book presented as historical insight that only shows one side of a story isn't worth reading unless the author lets us know that it is a one sided view.
       I remember the one, maybe two parties we (KAs) had with (all-black fraternity) Kappa Alpha Psi, and I have no bad memories of them. As we reflect on the great days of our youth at Marshall, there were plenty of things done by all manner of students that didn't sit well with other students. Thankfully, we were not so stupid to slice or punch those with views that were different from ours. 
       As we mature, we learn to not necessarily agree with others views, but to better understand why they feel the way they do.  It is unfortunate that a book in which the KAs are presented as racist, doesn't reflect that they were 20-year old college students celebrating some of the values of one southern icon, while possibly not trying to be politically correct enough to mourn some of the other things that were part of the South.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

MU yearbook dedication to the 75 who perished

       Editor’s Note: In the 1971 edition of Marshall University’s yearbook, the Chief Justice, yearbook staff member Wayne Faulkner wrote the following dedication in recognition of those who died in the plane crash on November 14, 1970. MU lost most of its football team, coaching staff and several school administrators. Also on board were MU athletic boosters and a number of Huntington, West Virginia’s prominent citizens – doctors, lawyers, business people and civic leaders.

Sometimes we must face a change in our environment.
One that is very personal —
One that may be quite emotional.
It is difficult; it is slow;
The new road is filled with many pitfalls.
Death has made her impression on us all;
She may leave during happy hours soaked with beer,
Or, in wild moments of blaring rock,
Or, in the comfort of a humorous book.
Yet she has seen fit to keep her presence known
Known is a way we shall find comfort.
For when we smell smoke in the air and leaves are falling;
When the autumn sun shines and crowds roar 
against the vivid background of green;
When we taste the ozone bitter of the brass horn crying,
And the hazy hills echo the cheers,
Death will casually appear to us as memory 
in seventy-five familiar faces.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Retrospect: Remembering Marshall football tragedy

By Keri Brown
       Last Monday marked the 41st anniversary of a plane crash near the Tri-State Airport in Huntington, West Virginia, that killed 75 people, including most of Marshall University's varsity football team. Winston-Salem (NC) resident Craig T. Greenlee will never forget November 14, 1970. He was a student on campus and got to know many of the players and staff when he was a safety on Marshall University's football team during the 1968 and 1969 seasons.
Keri Brown
       Greenlee lost his best friend in the crash, Scottie Reese, a football player from Waco, Texas.
"So many people were touched by it whether you went to school there or not. Ladies lost boyfriends that night. I lost my best friend who was on the plane that night. There was no such thing as an athletic dorm as we know it today.  Back then, they were scattered (living in different dorms)," said Greenlee.
       The 2006 movie We are Marshall brought the tragedy to the big screen. But Greenlee said the Hollywood version fails to capture the stories of tragedy and triumph that followed many students like him. He is now a freelance sports writer in the Triad and is a substitute teacher. He said the untold stories on campus inspired him to write a book about the disaster —November Ever After.
       "There's a chapter in the book where I talk about some African-American students, who, through the help of some ministers in the city, chartered a bus,” said Greenlee. “They attended as many funerals as they could and they wound up going to a wake and three funerals for seven players in the span five days and covered around 1,500 miles.”
       To listen to audio of this interview go to WFDD 88.5-FM News

Keri Brown is a reporter/host for 88.5 WFDD, the NPR® news and Triad Arts station broadcasting from Wake Forest University (NC). WFDD broadcasts news, information, and public affairs programming to 32 counties from both its Winston-Salem and Greensboro studios.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Greenlee: 'I lost my best friend in that plane crash'

       The saga of the Marshall University plane crash never gets old. As time passes, the story continues to resonate with people from all across the United States.
       Earlier this week, former Thundering Herd defensive back Craig T. Greenlee spoke with News Program Director Tim Lewis of Riverbend Communications about his days as a college jock at MU in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. Greenlee has written a book about that time in his life – November Ever After: A memoir of tragedy and triumph in the wake of the 1970 Marshall football plane crash.
       The book takes an intimate look at the events surrounding the night of November 14, 1970, the aftermath of the disaster, and how it impacted the lives of those who were left behind.
       Click on the link below to listen to an excerpt of an exclusive interview that’s currently running on the website for Newstalk radio (KBLI 690-AM and KBLY 1260-AM). Both stations are part of the East Idaho Radio network.

Change of schedule for author's radio interviews

       Book author Craig T. Greenlee’s interviews on the radio shows Dresser After Dark (bbsradio.com) and Voices & Viewpoints (WFDD-88.5 FM in Winston-Salem, NC), have been rescheduled to air at a later date.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reader 'thoroughly enjoyed' MU football memoir

Miz Duff
By Miz Duff

       I read your book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. November Ever After is truly better than the movie We Are Marshall. There’s more truth in your little book than in the whole movie.
       At the time of the crash, I was a senior in high school. I also attended First Baptist Church, where a lot of the players attended. I remember going to Charleston (WVa.) on the night of the crash. When I got there, our friends told us what had happened. I just started thinking of all the players and started naming as many names as I could.
      My mother was a teacher at Huntington High School and a night class instructor at Marshall University at the time. Our out-of-town relatives thought she may have been on the plane. Thank God she wasn't.
       When I read that you and Scottie Reese were best friends, I got a little choked up. Scottie and I always agreed to disagree. We never failed to give each other the "mean mug" or make snide comments to each other.
       I’m busy telling people to read your book and I'm getting ready to loan it to a friend of mine even though she’s going to buy a copy for herself. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed looking back (in time) when I read your book. Thanks.
       It doesn’t matter what team we play on in life. When God calls our number, the game is over. Peace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book excerpt: Chapter Three -- Chilly Racial Climate

There weren’t any racial tensions on Marshall’s football team in 1969. Blacks and whites got along just fine. But away from the games, practices, team meetings, and study hall, it was a much different scenario.
     At best, socializing among the black and white players was minimal. You wouldn’t see any black players going to any parties hosted by the white fraternities and white sororities. Likewise, you’d never see any white guys showing up at a hotel or house party thrown by black folks. And it didn’t matter if the party’s location was near campus or in the heart of the hood. That’s just the way it was. Blacks and whites seemed to be comfortable with that. Nobody felt the need to come out of their cultural comfort zone. Of course there were a few blacks and whites who intermingled frequently, but it wasn’t commonplace. After all, this was Huntington, not Greenwich Village.
      The late ‘60s marked the arrival of the first wave of black athletes coming to Marshall, which before then, didn’t have many black students. The school started to recruit more blacks for football and basketball.
      At the same time, there was another movement taking place, not only at Marshall, but also at other colleges around the South. Up until then, it was standard procedure for black folks to enroll at historically black institutions. But even that was starting to change as a greater number of blacks who were not athletes opted to attend predominantly white schools. This trend was set in motion, in large part, by the desegregation of the public school systems at every grade level in the Deep South. With more blacks attending mainstream schools, there was bound to be some uneasiness among the races. There were a lot of whites who had never been around black people before, and vice versa. So it was inevitable that, at some point, there would be incidents that would spark racial unrest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Author's upcoming media appearances and events

This week:  Interview with News Program Director Tim Lewis of East Idaho Radio in Idaho Falls, Id. Visit the website http://www.eiradio.com and click on the icon “NEWSTALK AM 690/1260”.

Thursday, November 17: Radio talk show Dresser After Dark, 7:34 p.m. (live). To listen, go to:
http://www.DresserAfterDark.com or http://www.bbsradio.com/dresserafterdark

Friday, November 18: National Public Radio … Half-hour conversation with host Denise Franklin on Voices & Viewpoints. The program will air at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on WFDD-88.5 FM in Winston-Salem, NC.

Saturday, December 17: Book signing from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Stadium Bookstore in Huntington, WVa.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Writer to discuss book on radio show in the ATL

      The former college jock who wrote the memoir November Ever After is a featured guest on The Sports Kings radio talk show in Atlanta, Ga. Author Craig T. Greenlee’s live interview is set for today, November 13, at 2:50 p.m. on WAOK-1380 AM, one of the city’s premier news talk radio stations. Robert Calloway and Dean Reid are the show’s co-hosts.
       November Ever After is a memoir about Greenlee’s days as a college football player at Marshall University in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. He played defensive back at MU for two seasons, but left the team for personal reasons after his sophomore year. He did not play football that year, so he was not on the plane.
       On November 14, 1970, the Thundering Herd’s chartered plane crashed into the side of a mountain as it attempted to land in bad weather at the airport in Huntington, WVa. Monday marks the 41st anniversary of the tragedy.
        “I look forward to providing some perspective on what things were really like during the time of the tragedy,” Greenlee said. “I know that a lot of folks really enjoyed the movie We Are Marshall. But the movie is only an appetizer. By comparison, the memoir I’ve written is more like the full-course meal.”
              Even if you’re not in Atlanta, you can still listen to the live interview. Visit the website http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/show/sports-kings/ and click on “Listen Live.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

TODAY: Book signing event in Winston-Salem, NC


A memoir of tragedy and triumph

By Craig T. Greenlee
Local author and former Marshall University defensive back

Today (November 12, 2011)
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
1925 Hampton Inn Court
Winston-Salem, NC 27103
(next door to The Sports Authority)

Greenlee is guest on 'Sports Kings' in Atlanta

        The author of November Ever After is scheduled to make a guest appearance on The Sports Kings radio talk show in Atlanta, Ga. Craig T. Greenlee will do a live interview on Sunday, November 13 at 2:50 p.m. on WAOK-1380 AM, one of the city’s top news talk stations. The weekend show is co-hosted by Robert Calloway and Dean Reid. You can listen to the live interview even if you’re not in Atlanta. To do so, visit http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/show/sports-kings/ and click on “Listen Live.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book: 'Painful to read, but incredibly satisfying'

        Diverse: Issues in Higher Education added a special touch in its coverage of the Marshall University plane crash tragedy that occurred over 40 years ago. In the November 10 issue of the magazine, writer/editor Angela Dodson, an MU alumnus, writes an in-depth review of November Ever After, the memoir that takes an up-close and personal look at the crash as told by those who were left behind.
       Before reading Dodson’s review, I highly recommend that you take a look at the editor’s page. Diverse editor David Pluviose addresses the connection that Dodson and one of the magazine’s staff members have in relation to November 14, 1970. Dodson, a longtime contributor to the magazine, knows first-hand about some of the anguish and pain felt by the MU community. The year of the crash, she was a sophomore journalism major who doubled as a floor counselor at one of the girls’ dormitories.
       For Diverse creative director Dan Stainback, the connection goes much deeper. Dan’s father, Jerry, was one of the 75 passengers on that plane. Jerry Stainback was a starting linebacker for the Thundering Herd in ’70.
       To take a look at the magazine, click on the link below. When the pages appear, click on the page number arrow located near the bottom of the page. Go to page 6 to read Pluviose’s article entitled Marshall On My Mind. See pages 22-23 for the book review.

WV radio: Author has interview on 'Super Talk'

.       November Ever After author Craig T. Greenlee is scheduled to do a radio interview today (November 11) on Insiders Sportsline, a sports talk show. Greenlee will be on the air at 5:05 p.m. on Huntington’s ‘Super Talk’ station WRVC-94.1 FM/930 AM in Huntington, WVa.
       Greenlee’s memoir is about his days as a college athlete at Marshall University in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. He was in school at the time of the 1970 plane crash that killed most of the football team. Greenlee played defensive back for the Herd for two seasons, so he knew most of the players who were passengers on the fatal flight.
        Monday marks the 41st anniversary of the tragedy, which is considered the worst aviation disaster in the history of American sports. “It’s taken a long time for this story to get its day in the sun,” said Greenlee in reference to his book. “But this story is not just about me. It’s a story that includes so many others who were there on Marshall’s campus at that time.”
       Insiders Sportsline is co-hosted by veteran broadcasters Paul Swann and Woody Woodrum. The show, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, reaches listeners in the metro Huntington area, Ironton, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky. WRVC is the flagship station for the Thundering Herd IMG Sports Network.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Marshall plane crash story has so many ironies

       The story of the tragic Marshall University plane crash is loaded with ironies. For today, I’ll just focus on one example.
       The 1970 edition of the Thundering Herd had three players – Bob Harris, Jack Repasy and Mark Andrews – who were teammates at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. When Marshall went on a road trip to play East Carolina, the parents of these three players drove south from Ohio to watch their sons play.
QB/WR Bob Harris
       The Cincinnati trio played reasonably well in a gut-wrenching 17-14 loss. Andrews was a key performer for MU as a defensive lineman. Harris split time between playing quarterback and wide receiver. Repasy was a proven commodity at receiver, who rarely dropped any ball thrown in his direction.
       After the game, Bob Harris Sr. and his wife asked the three players to ride back with them to Huntington, West Virginia. According to the senior Harris, the three players were reluctant to approach Thundering Herd head coach Ricky Tolley about it.
       As things turned out, it would be the last time these parents would see their sons. Harris, Repasy and Andrews were among the 75 passengers on the DC-9 jet that crashed into the side of a mountain and yielded no survivors.
       “They were afraid because the coach was enraged because they had lost the game,” said Harris Sr. during an interview on the ESPN Classic documentary Remembering Marshall (2000). “They just didn’t want to ask him.
       “And that haunts me to this day that I didn’t persist in getting them to ride back with us instead of going on the plane.”
       Right after making his comments, tears start to well up in the eyes of the elder Harris. It’s plain for everyone to see that the events from that horrific November night weighed heavily on his mind.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

O happy day ... Marshall finally stops the streak

        It’s late October in 1969 and the monkey is riding heavy on Marshall’s back. With another loss, the Thundering Herd will set a record for the nation’s longest winless streak. Nobody wants to see MU go down in football infamy.
Ted Shoebridge threw for 202 yards vs. Falcons.

       The odds for Marshall ending a 27-game winless streak were not favorable. The Herd would be revved up for its Homecoming game, but it’s doubtful that anyone believed the home team had any chance to upset Bowling Green, a team it hadn’t beaten since the mid-1950s. It didn’t help matters that the Falcons were 27-point favorites and prime contenders in the Mid-American Conference.
       The conditions at Fairfield Stadium were far from ideal. It had rained on and off on the morning of the game. The field was a muddy mess and it would only get worse as the game progressed. Nevertheless, the two teams went at it and the surprising Herd more than held its own.
       Quarterback Ted Shoebridge skillfully guided the Marshall on three scoring drives, which included touchdown tosses to Dickie Carter and Jack Repasy. Kevin Gilmore scored the game-winner on a one-yard plunge.
       Trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter, Bowling Green responded with an impressive drive to trim Marshall’s lead to 21-14. On their next possession, the Falcons put together another long drive. But this time the Herd’s defense put BG’s offense on lock-down. Cornerback Larry Sanders intercepted a pass at the 5-yard line to squash the Falcons threat and end all hopes for a stirring comeback.
       Marshall then took a safety and the Falcons got the ball back on a free kick. BG had three chances to reach the end zone, but the Herd prevailed to earn a miraculous win in the mud as the rain-drenched crowd swarmed the field after the final gun sounded to end the game.
       Final score: Marshall 21, Bowling Green 16.
       Shoebridge didn’t throw a lot in these swampy conditions, but he was effective enough. He connected on 8 of 16 throws for 202 yards.
       While the offense delivered what was needed, it was the play of the defense provided the final margin of victory. The Herd gave up a whopping 415 yards, but compensated by forcing five fumbles to go with a pair of drive-killing interceptions. Defensive line Mike Bankston finished with 15 tackles, three recovered fumbles and one forced fumble.
       This victory proved to be a sign of better things to come for the remainder of the ’69 season. During that stretch, Marshall won three of its last four games and outscored opponents 120-79.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NC weekly: Greenlee takes fresh look at MU tragedy

Craig T. Greenlee
        Editor’s Note: The following article ran in the Arts & Lifestyle section of The Chronicle weekly newspaper in Winston-Salem, NC on November 3.

       Local resident Craig T. Greenlee has released November Ever After, a memoir that tells little-known facts about the tragic 1970 plane crash that killed most of the Marshall University Football Team.
       Greenlee played football at Marshall for two seasons, but left the team for one year. He knew most of the players who died and rejoined the team after the crash to help rebuild the school’s football program.
       There have been other books penned about the tragedy and even a 2006 film We Are Marshall, but Greenlee said other accounts have missed or glossed over key facts.
       “Most people are amazed by what they discover from the movie and the documentaries about the Marshall tragedy,” said Greenlee. “As amazed as they are, they don’t realize that what they’ve learned is only the tip of the iceberg.”
       November Ever After, for example, tells of former Marshall lineman Ed Carter, who missed the fatal flight and started an evangelical ministry as a result of his life being spared.
       Dickie Carter’s story is also told in the book. Dickie Carter was a star running back who quit the team a few weeks before the crash.
       In the book, Greenlee also talks about the volatile racial atmosphere on the Marshall campus. He argues that the plane crash most likely averted what could have been a full-scale race riot on Marshall’s campus.
       To learn more, go to http://NovemberEverAfter.com

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Retrospect 1969: College football's centennial year

        Editor’s Note: Few people realize that in the era of November Ever After, college football celebrated its 100th anniversary (1969). It wasn’t exactly a vintage year for Marshall’s football team, but that’s another story for another time. Take a look at this archive article that ran in the school’s newspaper The Parthenon. The article was written student journalist Jeffery Bergen and was published October 31, 1969.

       This year is the mark of a century of intercollegiate football. Fans who have attended college games this season have noticed that on the side of each player’s helmet are the numerals “100” framed by a football.
       It is recorded that the first intercollegiate game was at New Brunswick, on Nov. 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. Rutgers won six goals to four. The game was not timed by a watch, but was decided when one team scored six goals.
       A century ago, teams used a round, rubber ball. A goal was scored when the ball was kicked under the crossbar. Today, players run for a touchdown and kick extra points over the crossbar for a field goal or the point after touchdown.
       Marshall football began its season in 1898 when the Herd fell to Catlettsburg, Ky., 11-5. Being a young team, they lacked experience and did not have a winning season until 1937.
       Under the direction of Coach Cam Henderson, the team of ’37 tallied a record of winning 14 games in a row. The team also scored the most points, 343, in the history of the school.
       We can estimate that two-and-half million men have played college football in a century and that 1,500 have been “immortal.” Men like George Gipp (Notre Dame); Red Grange (Illinois); Jim Thorpe (Carlisle) and many other players and coaches are the men who have made football the game it is today.
       Twenty to thirty million fans will see a college game in 1969. This seems like a good way to start off the next century.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Greenlee to share perspective on radio talk show

      The memoir November Ever After continues to attract considerable media interest as the anniversary of the 1970 Marshall University plane crash approaches. Craig T. Greenlee, the memoir’s author, will share his insights and memories on Insiders Sportsline, a sports talk radio show co-hosted by veteran broadcasters Paul Swann and Woody Woodrum.
       The interview is scheduled for Friday, November 11 at 5:05 p.m. on WRVC-94.1 FM/930 AM in Huntington, West Virginia. Nine days from today (November 14) marks the 41st anniversary of the aviation disaster that killed 75 people, which included MU athletic administrators and boosters, plus most of the football team and coaching staff.
       The daily show, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m., reaches listeners in the metro Huntington area, Ironton, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky. WRVC is the flagship station for the Thundering Herd IMG Sports Network.

Friday, November 4, 2011

'I can only imagine what it must have been like'

By Cynthia Greenlee
       Craig and I had been married for about 7½ years before he ever mentioned anything about the Marshall University plane crash. I knew he went to Marshall, but he never said very much about his college days.
Cynthia Greenlee
       When we went to see the movie We Are Marshall, what I remember more than anything was how he kept shaking his head all during the movie and afterwards. He even got into specifics about different scenes and explained what really happened and what didn’t.
       There was one scene in the movie that really seemed to bother him. Anthony Mackie, who played Nate Ruffin in the film, got very emotional during a scrimmage and attacked one of his teammates. In that scene, assistant coach Red Dawson had to pull Ruffin off the guy. Craig kept saying that the real-life Nate didn’t act anything like the character in the movie.
       Craig ought to know. He and Nate played together, so he would have a good understanding of how Nate might react in stressful situations.
       When Craig did some of his background research for the book, we went back to Huntington (West Virginia) for a few days and we visited his college roommate Bill Redd and his wife, Marie. They talked a lot about the crash. For me, I don’t think it would be something I would want to talk about, even after all these years. I’m not so sure I would want to relive all of that.
       I can only imagine what it must have been like to be on Marshall’s campus that night. Craig’s best friend (Scottie Reese) died in the plane crash.  Maybe that’s why he never said anything about it.

Cynthia Greenlee is married to the author. The couple lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

'It was not something that I was very eager to see'

The Emmy Award-winning documentary Ashes to Glory debuted to rave reviews in 2000. The film about the 1970 Marshall University plane crash inspired viewers. But for many people like MU alumna Angela Dodson, it would be years after the documentary’s release before they could muster up enough nerve to watch a film that  brought back so many painful memories. Dodson, a free-lance writer, editor and consultant, was a sophomore journalism major at the time of the tragedy.
Q: How long did you have Ashes to Glory in your possession before you finally decided to take a look at it?
Angela Dodson
A: I’m not certain. But it would be safe to say at least two or three years. I bought it at the Marshall Bookstore, I believe. I can’t pinpoint the year because I had been visiting (MU) campus at least annually because I was on the Yeager Scholars’ board. I’m sure it was after the We Are Marshall film came out.
Q: You mentioned that even though you had the documentary DVD for a few years, the seal had not been broken. Sounds like you had no intentions of looking at it for a very long time, if ever. Please elaborate.
A: I guess I didn’t have any real intentions of viewing it. I can’t say I ever articulated that, or had a specific reason to avoid it. Obviously, it was not something that I was very eager to see. I’d been told that I was in it somewhere, but I was still not compelled to see it.
Q: Tell me about the film segment you appear in.
A: It’s nearly three-quarters of the way through the documentary and they’re discussing the aftermath of the crash. It’s a press conference, apparently to introduce the new coach. You see me facing the camera, sitting at a table with other reporters, diligently taking notes and looking down at my notebook.
You will recognize me as the girl with the perfect 10-inch-high Afro. I don’t really recall this press conference, but I assume that I was sent on assignment for The Parthenon, the campus newspaper, as part of an advanced reporting class. I wasn’t working for the local paper yet. I guess I could probably figure out the date and research whether I did a story on it. I might have just contributed to a larger story.
Because of my experience and my role as a student reporter in covering the 1970 Marshall crash, I’ve had a life-long fascination and interest in disaster news coverage, which has served me especially well as an editor. I could work calmly through nights of editing news and coordinating the coverage of train wrecks, mine disasters, massive fires, explosions and earthquakes, not to mention plane crashes, and I would continuously push to get every detail.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Author's response to comment on news column

        There’s further need to set the record straight about the rationale for my views about the film We Are Marshall. Sure enough, the movie gave the MU story a national stage. But just because a story draws interest from sea to shining sea doesn’t set a precedent for distorting what really happened.
       Below, a Winston-Salem Journal (NC) reader, who is also a Marshall graduate, commented on a recent newspaper column about the memoir November Ever After.
       As the book’s author, I have a response, which follows the reader’s comments.
       Kerrie Barnhart wrote:
       “We Are Marshall has a runtime of two hours, 11 minutes. The horror of the night of November 14, 1970 took longer than that. There were so many sad, interesting and (eventually) wonderful stories that began that evening, but there's simply no way they could have all been included in a two-hour movie. With all due respect to Mr. Greenlee, nearly five years after the release of "WAM," I just don't understand the animosity about decisions that had to be made for a movie's running time.”
       Greenlee’s response:
       I agree wholeheartedly that there’s only such much content that can be squeezed into a movie that last a little over two hours. The real issue here is not a film’s run time. It’s about making sure that – within the time frame of the movie – that the truth be fully acknowledged.
       That’s not too much to ask, especially when you recall this sentence … “This is a true story.” Those words appeared prominently on the screen at the very start of the movie.
       The whole focus of the film was to show how a college and a city managed to recover from such a shocking loss. Yet, it’s so strange that the movie never gave much information about the seventy-five passengers who died in that plane crash. If there’s no tragedy, there’s no comeback, and hence, no story line.
       No movie, or documentary, or book can be all-inclusive. Not many people will sit through a movie that’s longer than two-and-half hours. Books are no different. How many people will read 500, 800 or 1,000 pages of somebody’s prose?
       Here’s the bottom line. The movie was produced as an avenue to pay homage to those who lost their lives on a November night a long time ago. If we’re serious about that, what better way to honor them than to tell it like it really was?
       And even if you can’t get every aspect of the story in, it’s no problem. Take the content you have and tell it thoroughly, tell it well, and don’t forsake accuracy for the sake of artistic license.
       Are the people from back in the day way off base because they prefer the truth over an altered version of what really transpired? I don’t think so. Let’s just say that it’s so sad that filmmakers are convinced they can improve the truth by improvising.
       This story is truly marvelous. There’s no need for alterations.