Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Crash victim’s son “still a boy who longs for his dad”

Editor’s Note: Here’s a letter I received from Frank Loria Jr., the son of the one of the coaches who perished in the Marshall University football plane crash on November 14, 1970. Coach Frank Loria was my position coach when I played for the Thundering Herd.

Dear Craig,

I am the son of one of your former coaches at Marshall, Frank Loria. Just wanted to reach out and say how much I appreciate your book November Ever After. I especially enjoyed reading about the point you said my dad would always make about taking care of the little things and the big things will come. Since I was born December 30, 1970, I never knew him. Even so, I never tire of hearing things like that about him.
Just so you know my life has been great. Despite the void, I have a lot to be thankful for. My mom is a true hero and her story is a source of strength for me.  When my dad died she had my two older sisters (age 3 and age 1 at the time) and then of course me to take care of.  She really did a great job and the thing I most admire is that she never openly complained about the deal she was given.

I was fortunate to have constant reminders of who my dad was and what he stood for. As a kid his memory made me strive to excel in everything I did and to do so in an honest and good way. I wanted to be a “good boy” that my dad would have been proud of. That led me to go to West Point for college and serve proudly in the Army. That same desire to excel drives me today in the business world.  I may be a 42-year old man, but I am still a boy who longs for his dad. That may sound sad and I guess it is, but it helps me to be the best dad I can be to my two beautiful children.
I also appreciated your perspective about the tense race issues of those days. Marshall certainly was way ahead of its time in integrating folks from different races but that doesn't mean it was easy.  The thing is the crash didn’t discriminate. And from that it seems that, although not perfectly, people came together as human beings to grieve and then to move on.  Huntington, West Virginia is a special place.

This is the deal I have been given and I accept it. As I said, my life has been great and I am very happy.  But as you say in the book, “it's always with you.”  Life is messy!

My first visit to Marshall was in 2000 for the unveiling of the bronze statue and the 30th memorial of the plane crash. It was a time of healing for me. I got to meet a lot of people and for me it was most special to connect with other folks who lost parents.  There was an immediate bond of understanding and love. I have continued to go back as much as I can. I had the honor to speak at the 35th memorial which was really a privilege. I consider myself part of the Marshall family.

Anyway, I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for sharing your story.

Take Care,