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1970 Marshall Plane Crash: We Remember

What are your memories of Nov. 14, 1970? Share them here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

'Tradition and persistence'

I grew up outside Chapmanville W.Va on a farm, born in 1947 and I am a MU graduate of 1973 with a major in Physics.

In the summer of 1970 I went back to MU after getting out of the U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg and getting married to the young Mindi Ingram of Raleigh, N.C. I had previously attended MU before the Army, and being somewhat of a B-Ball Gym Rat I played basketball that summer in Gullickson Hall with some of the 1970 Football team members.

I remember Ted Shoebridge, the 1970 Football team QB as a nice guy. B-Ball can be pretty competitive but Ted was always good to everyone. We later attended the MU Branch at Logan because my mother was sick that fall and we lived at home.

After listening to the game that Saturday on a crackly radio, I remember going outside that night and noting that it was overcast, foggy and very still, telling my wife that something felt odd that night. We later learned that night of the plane crash.

I remember the memorial services and thinking of the players I had played basketball with and how hard that was for their families. It also made many of us realize our mortality and what a great gift that life was to all of us.

We later attended MU that Spring in Huntington and I remember playing b-ball at lunch with Red Dawson and some of the faculty members, one of the main characters in the movie. I remember watching the MU football players that spring running up and down the stairs in Gullickson Hall and I knew some of them from living off campus and playing b-ball.

I was tempted to play and Red brought it up a couple of times but never pushed. I was always impressed with Red and his friendliness. I remember how unassuming he was and his telling us of his football career at Florida State as a wide reciever, most likely the Bobby Bowden connection and why Red knew him.

There was always a sadness there though and it did not surprise many of us that he did not come back after the 71 season, but I was always impressed with the kind person he was, he never lost control in B-Ball, even though he was a competitor.

My wife remembers me talking about playing football but I passed on that, I graduated in less than 3 years after coming back and with a wife and a child one feels a responsibility to get a job.

I always went to the home games and I remember the Xavier game so well and what a "miracle" that seemed, Bill James and the James Gang (his family) and Reggie Oliver and his dogged determination, the team leader and Nate Ruffin. MU football in 1971 was more than football, it taught a lot of us what people, coaches and players could accomplish.

Although only winning 2 games that season MU football showed over the years how valuable persistence really is. If the school had not put a team on the field I really believe that a lot of us might not be the people we are today, at least in not having heros and realizing that tradition does affect our lives.

I am also a WVU grad with a major in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics or Mechanical Engineering. I was pleased to see the connection brought out in the movie between MU and WVU, I hope the fans of both schools realize the two universities are more friends than foe, it's always tough when they play each other, especially when you bleed Green and White and Blue and Gold.

When Mindi and I were married she remembers my nightmares of a plane crashing in the mountains of W. Va., dreams that I had ever since a kid. They stopped after the 1970 football team crash. I had reservations about seeing the movie but after going with my wife I remember all the good times at MU. I have seen it 4-5 times and I have not gotten tired of it. Yes, the film may be a bit hammy in places but it truly is inspirational, especially having known many of the people in it. Tradition and persistence. Those guys and coaches are still my heroes.

-Dr. Scott Lucas, Class of 73

1 comment:

Kelly, AZ said...

I'm so sorry Marshall Univ. had to experience this trajedy. Four generations of us just watched the movie: my grandmother, my mother, my daughter, and myself. We experienced so many emotions throughout this movie. Nothing makes us happier than seeing an entire community keep the team alive after the loss of so much. I have never seen a community stick together as if they were one big family. We will never forget this! I had to buy this movie to keep the memory of such an inspirational story.