I was there in 1970 when most of Marshall University's football team perished in a plane crash. Although many years have passed, there are still a multitude of stories that have yet to be told. "November Ever After" takes you there. This memoir goes beyond the night of the tragedy. It provides an intimate look at those who were left behind -- the real story as told by the folks who were actually there. Feel free to contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive photo of author from MU media day in August 1969.
Editor's Note: Here's a response to one my entries on the November Ever After blog site. It's written by Ray Rideout, Jr., one of the co-hosts of the weekly podcast "Let's Talk Herd," a show devoted to Marshall University athletics. The podcast isn't a replication of most talk shows. It's unique in that discussions all come from a fan's perspective. You can check out the content at http://www.letstalkherd.com
Recently I read a blog post written by Craig Greenlee titled “Return to Fairfield Stadium had a strange feel to it.” This post was centered around Mr. Greenlee’s return to Marshall University’s football team after the tragic plane crash that occurred November 14, 1970 where 75 players, coaches and fans were killed. What he wrote invoked so many emotions in me as a fan, it amazed me how he wrote so little, but said so much.
Greenlee had left the team in 1969 and had settled into being a “regular student” when the crash occurred. As I read his words, I felt that he conveyed the message of needing to return to the team in 1971 which shows his love of the sport and his university. I feel we all possess this love for our university sports programs. Greenlee was one of the few who were able to express this love through his God given ability and talent. He fought through the anger, and pain of loss to show us that there was light at the end of what seemed to be a never ending tunnel. It is because of this that I am honored to speak about him and his wonderful post.
When he wrote -- “As I trotted down the ramp from the locker room to go on the field, I couldn’t help but think about the guys who died in the crash” -- a chill ran over me, and I felt the lump hit my throat. He goes on to say that 13 of the 37 players that died that night came to Marshall in 1968, which was the same year he came to play football at Marshall. I would think that thought would be almost surreal, to the point that it almost seems impossible.
After losing so much, he returned to a field that was totally different from the one he left. Everything had changed for him; the field was now artificial, it had been crowned for drainage and the players he once played with on this field were now gone.
“Depending on the direction of a given play, you’d run slightly uphill or slightly downhill. It took some getting used to, but I eventually got acclimated.”
Mr. Greenlee, I am sure that the uphill plays were harder, but you pressed on and carried on a tradition that will never be forgotten. For this I truly thank you for being a Son of Marshall and being there when our town needed you the most.