Herd takes memorial run
HUNTINGTON -- Chris Jasperse looked around Friday morning and saw the faces of his younger Marshall University football teammates.
Many of the young players had seen the movie "We Are. ... Marshall" and felt the effects of it when they committed to play for the Thundering Herd. However, it went to another level with Friday morning's memorial run.
The run from Joan C. Edwards Stadium to Spring Hill Cemetery's memorial to the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash was more of a mental exercise than physical. Six players who died in the crash are buried there.
"You can see the movie, but it really doesn't do it justice until you go up there and see it in person," Jasperse, a senior center, said. "That's when it really hits home what it's all about. You can see it and you can feel it when you are there."
Jasperse and the rest of Marshall's team heard from WSAZ-TV sports director Keith Morehouse at the Memorial site.
Morehouse shared the story of how he lost his father, Gene, who was Marshall's play-by-play voice and sports information director at the time. He also spoke of his wife Debbie, who lost both parents in the crash of Southern Airways Flight 932 upon a landing attempt at Tri-State Airport.
The plane crash claimed the lives of 75 people including members of football program and some city leaders, who made the chartered flight to Greenville, N.C., for the Herd's 17-14 loss to East Carolina.
"There's not a program in America where football is more important because it represents and remembers what happened in the plane crash in 1970," Marshall football coach Doc Holliday told Herdzone.com columnist Jack Bogaczyk.
It was Jasperse's third run up the hill to the memorial site. Yet, every time he leaves feeling a little bit closer to the team and community.
"Marshall has a bunch of great fans and a great community, and every day I see exactly what this football team means to them," Jasperse said. "It's unbelievable and these are some of the greatest people I've ever met in my life.
"Days like today are great because we need to be reminded and need to be humbled. We have the opportunity to play and those guys never had that chance again after that day. We play for them."
Following the run to the memorial and speeches from Holliday and Morehouse, team chaplain Steve Harvey led the team in a prayer. Players joined hands and bowed their heads in reverence to those who had gone before them.
They are. ... Marshall.
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