Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Marshall schoolmate remembers Roger Childers
By Gary Sweeney
Author’s note: The following is a message I received from a schoolmate of Roger Childers who died in the MU plane crash over forty-one years ago. Author Craig T. Greenlee and Childers came to Marshall the same year (1968) and were teammates on the football team for two seasons.
Life takes many turns and the many roads less traveled become a part of our lives. Because Craig had given up the game of football, he was not on board the plane that dark and stormy night of November 14, 1970. I believe God had a new purpose for Craig...and it would take over forty-one years before he would pen a book about “what it was like to be a student and ex-teammate of our THUNDERING HERD football team.”
On page 43 of the memoir November Ever After, Craig wrote:
"Roger Childers was a newlywed who got married eight days before the crash. He came to Marshall in '68 and was the only white player in the starting secondary on the freshman team. The next year, he played linebacker and then sat out the '70 season after undergoing major surgery. The year he sat out, he was team manager. Roger planned to return to competition in '71.”
I cried as I read that passage about Roger, over and over. Craig is not aware that Roger was my little fraternity brother of the Kappa Alpha Order. Roger meant so much to all of us in our brotherhood.
He was one of my best friends, although, I was a few years older than he. Roger and I had met during the summer of '68 when we worked for a fencing company in my newly adopted town of St. Albans, West Virginia. He had decided that he was going to join Marshall’s football team as a walk-on.
I invited Roger to rush Kappa Alpha Order. I was also set to serve at Roger's wedding. But during the summer of ’70, I was drafted into the Army while attending graduate school at Marshall.
Around the time that Roger got married, I was preparing for a tour of duty in Southeast Asia (Thailand and Vietnam) and was stationed at Ft. Lee, Virginia. Because of that, I did not receive a pass to come to West Virginia for Roger's wedding.
As a result, I was unable to share that joyous occasion with him. Sadly, though, I did come back to serve as a pall bearer at Roger’s memorial service which was held a few days after the plane crash.
Gary Sweeney is a Marshall University graduate who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.