Wednesday, January 4, 2012

11.14.70 ... A night of disbelief, anguish and denial

        The night of November 14, 1970 was a night of denial for me.
       Even after it had been confirmed that it was Marshall’s chartered jet that crashed, I never thought it might be fatal. For whatever reason, I kept thinking and hoping that the crash wasn’t all that bad.
       I kept thinking …
       Maybe the crash happened right before the plane hit the runaway and the jet had to land on its belly. Or, maybe one of the wings was detached, but the plane still reached the runway intact. In both scenarios, the worst I could imagine was a lot of people being injured.
       Then it occurred to me that things could be far worse than I originally thought. But even then, I couldn’t force myself to even consider that there might not be any survivors. Kept thinking that some way, somehow, that when the plane crashed, there just had to be some people who were thrown free of the wreckage.
       When the word came that nobody survived, I got this sense that yeah, I heard what was said, but I don’t totally buy into what was said.
       There were carloads of students who sped from the dorms and rushed to the airport. The unspoken expectation was that some of the passengers would be found alive. The fact that so many people descended so quickly on the crash site indicated that all of us were thinking the same thing. If there were any survivors—as we all hoped—it would help if somebody was there at the scene to render aid to the injured passengers until they could get medical attention.
       That scenario never materialized. Folks on the Marshall campus were frantic. At no time was I ever eager to ride out to the airport. How come? I was afraid of what I might see, and I didn’t want to chance it. Quite frankly, I was OK with that. All I wanted was to remember “the fellas” from the last time I saw them when they were alive.

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