Former assistant Marshall coach Carl Kokor
Carl Kokor was an assistant coach for the Herd in 1970. He missed the flight from East Carolina to Huntington because he was scouting Ohio University in its game at Penn State. Marshall was scheduled to play Ohio the following week.
Kokor said at the 2000 memorial that the crash remains in his life as "a drive, an additional gear." When he saw "Ashes to Glory" Sunday, he thought of a different, more appropriate title.
"Glory from Ashes," Kokor said. "The glory is now. It came from the ashes."
Former Herald-Dispatch sports writer Lowell Cade
Former sports reporter Lowell Cade, who retired in 1997, said he could have been on the plane.
"Mike Brown and I split up covering Marshall on the road," he said. "It just so happened that I chose to go to Bowling Green and Toledo. Mike covered the East Carolina game."
Ironically, Brown also chose to drive to Greenville, N.C., with his wife instead of taking the team plane. Cade was on the sports desk the night of the crash and received a call from veteran police reporter Jack Hardin.
"He asked me if I knew someone named John Young," Cade said. "I told him that he was a tight end on Marshall's team.
"That's when we realized that the Marshall plane had crashed. It was a terrible night."
WSAZ-TV news anchor Bos Johnson
Bos Johnson, the longtime WSAZ-TV news anchor, says the Marshall plane crash was by far the "saddest" news story of his eventful career.
"I was off that night when I heard a news flash about a plane crash at the airport," Johnson told The Herald-Dispatch in November 1999. "I thought that it had to be the Marshall plane because of the time. I remember going in and being on the air past midnight.
"I don't really understand how I was able to do it now. Nothing has had more of an impact on this community. Dottie (his wife) and I attended 13 funerals in a week. I still get teary-eyed when I see the children of some of the victims I knew."
Community member Carolyn R. Barr
"One could not watch 'Ashes to Glory' without being touched," Carolyn R. Barr wrote to The Herald-Dispatch in November 2000. "Looking into the faces of those featured, one could see the past, the present and the future.
"Some things arrive in their own mysterious hour, on their own terms and not yours. The Marshall University plane crash affected many who were never acknowledged or credited for their participation in this piece of history.
"First to arrive on the scene were the West Virginia State Police, who organized the rest of the law enforcement agencies and fire departments. They continued working nonstop to secure the area and begin the recovery effort. Those involved in that effort are the silent ones - they never spoke, nor were asked about something that touched their lives so immensely.
"I've often wondered why nothing is ever written of those who gave so much of themselves. Their knowledge and memories would be invaluable. But the important part is to acknowledge their involvement. One of those is the father of my two daughters. He seldom speaks of the event, but I cannot help but remember his emotions at that time - in the form of silence and grief.
"I would like to acknowledge those who have remained so silent but gave so much. They are tomorrow's past."
Community member Gary Kline
"November in Huntington is such a peaceful time," Gary Kline of Ona wrote to The Herald-Dispatch in November 2003. "The tree-lined streets and stately two-story brick homes lend a quiet character to this town. November is also a sad time for this community, as well. Those who have lost someone close probably understand the emptiness that can remain for years after their loss. For this reason, it is understandable how this community still mourns the loss of their adoptive sons and daughters in a tragic event that still scars the souls of each and every person that calls Huntington home.
"Marshall football is more than a game. It is, rather, a living testament to the spirit of humankind. Sometimes, the stark realities of life will extinguish the flame of youth and hope, like it did on a cold rainy night on a dark Wayne County hillside. What is unknown by nature, is that this spirit, seemingly extinguished in a blazing mass of twisted metal and dreams interrupted, is now glowing like a beacon to those who have lost hope. This beacon guides them through the difficulties of life, giving course and direction. From those smoldering embers burn the hope of the next generation.
"Those who follow Marshall football are among the most aware of what being a fan is really about. They understand that it goes beyond the game. The very nature of this understanding is the fuel that powers this program to the height that it has reached. It will be this very understanding that will power this program to a height not yet realized. Perspective can sometimes be sobering when viewing football as merely a game. We appear quite childish, if indeed that's all there is to our discipleship. But we know better don't we? It's more than that.
"The masses that pass beneath the memorial bronze at the stadium will feel the cold November breeze on their faces. With a sad smile, they push on, knowing that those outside the circle of Herd Nation really do not understand. This symbol of unconquerable spirit reminds us that in life, good things don't come easy. It reminds us that Marshall football means more than what a gathering of our most God blessed and physically gifted young members of society accomplish on a given day. Marshall football is the conquering of fear and doubt. It is overcoming overwhelming odds.
"On game days in Huntington, the stadium will fill with anticipation. The old timers, still amazed at the lofty climb, look around at the young becoming part of the indoctrination. And high atop a nearby hill in Spring Hill Cemetery stands the marker above the grave of a spirit that just wouldn't die. And through the quiet of this peaceful setting resonates the sound of 'We are ... Marshall.' "
Community member Roger A. Hesson
"On the evening of Saturday, Nov. 14, 1970, my wife and I had a living room full of neighbors waiting for Marshall's assistant football coach Frank Loria to get home from East Carolina," Roger A. Hesson of Barboursville wrote to The Herald-Dispatch. "He was to get home about 9 p.m., bring his wife and two little girls across the street to my house, sing happy birthday to Bernice, help cut the cake and enjoy his friends after a hard road trip.
"A message came across the TV screen providing the terrible news. Bernice and I rushed across the street to be with Phyllis Loria, who was expecting another child the next month. When we arrived at her door, her phone rang, and she at that moment received the news of Frank's death.
"Frank played in the Hula Bowl when he was an All-American defensive back for Virginia Tech. Frank was a very competitive person. It was ironic that he had moved into the residence of former Marshall football coach Perry Moss. The two had never met.
"I was director of payroll at Marshall at this time. Many trips were made by me to the Wayne County Coroners Office securing death certificates as they were processed. I will always remember the funerals and funeral home visits to say farewell to my many friends and co-workers."
Community member Dave Marcum
"It was raining on that Saturday in November in Greensburg, Pa., a typical football Saturday around home, too rainy for golf so watching football or TV was the order of the day," writes Dave Marcum of Huntington. "After dinner, it was back to the TV to watch the late games.
"News break, CBS News - a plane carrying Marshall University's football team has crashed while attempting a right-turn landing at Huntington, W.Va., Tri-State Airport.
"I got up from my chair and grabbed my car keys.
"Lots of churches, lots of funerals, my last memory was holding onto the chain link fence at the south end of Fairfield Stadium, staring through the fence at a black wreath that had been laid on the 50-yard line.
"I must have been there for a long time staring and crying. An old man who lived across from where I stood came and touched my shoulder and said, "You can look for as long as you like, but they ain't never coming back. If you have a family, you need to go to them and get on with your life" - and so I did.
Marshall teacher Elizabeth Hines Czompo
"On a rainy, gloomy evening 33 years ago, my husband and I were coming back to town from our place in Wayne County," writes Elizabeth Hines Czompo of Huntington. "When we reached the house, we unloaded quickly, ate a snack and turned on the television. An announcement came about a plane accident near the airport.
"I wasn't paying much attention - probably looking at mail or newspapers - then it caught my attention. The news was probably about Marshall's plane. It would be returning from the game about this time.
"I screamed to my husband who was in another room, "Did you hear that? I think Marshall's plane has crashed!"
"About an hour earlier, we were driving on the road the plane crossed just before crashing. I think I was in some kind of shock. I almost feel it now.
"There must be several pieces of wood from the plane hidden in memory vaults, as we heard the next day that people were going to the crash site for pieces of the plane.
"At this time, I was teaching at Marshall. I lost several students. There were black wreaths at public buildings. I remember the one at City Hall because it was very large and gave me a strange feeling.
"I missed my students."
John and Elaine Whitfield
George and Bonnie Wallace of Rainelle, W.Va., wrote to The Herald-Dispatch in November 2005 to tell about John and Elaine Whitfield.
"They became designated ancillary guardians of Charles and Rachael Arnold's daughters eight months after the couple was killed in the plane crash," they write. "This couple will be rewarded someday in heaven for keeping these four girls together and raising them with their one daughter, Missy. They had to have a heart of gold to take on this task of raising this many girls.
"We met these folks while living in Huntington back in 1994 to 1997. I just wanted others to know what great people John and Elaine are."
Faculty wives, others helped after crash
"The fateful airplane crash on Saturday evening, Nov. 14, 1970, produced a substantial number of unsung heroes," William P. Stephenson of Huntington wrote to The Herald-Dispatch in November 2005.
"The Marshall University Faculty Wives Association was an example of those persons who mobilized to assist.
"At that time, Jean Modlin was president of the group. Within an hour of hearing of the crash, which took the lives of 75 Marshall team members and supporters, Mrs. Modlin and others in the group were organizing their fellow members into family assistance teams, with the acumen only experienced wives and mothers could have.
"Members were soon visiting and comforting bereaved parents, wives and children. Emergency meals and foods were prepared and delivered to households. Assistance was given to help with those tasks which occur with shock of sudden deaths.
"Monetary contributions were also made to the Faculty Wives. Most of the contributions became part of the nucleus of the funds that were pledged for the construction of the Marshall memorial.
"The Faculty Wives continued their assistance for an extended length of time. As an example, a number of children who lost a parent in the tragedy hopefully had a happier Christmas.
"There were other groups and persons, along with the Faculty Wives, who answered the call to assist. In general, these unsung heroes received no accolades. Nor did they ask for such. When they heard the call, they were there to help."
Kenova resident Jean Bailey
Jean Bailey remembers it like it was yesterday - an enormous jet plane falling toward her Kenova-area home.
Spellbound, she watched from her kitchen window, fearing the aircraft would crash directly into her house, which she shared that damp, gloomy Saturday evening with her husband and their two young sons.
"It sounded like popcorn popping, and I thought, 'What was that?' " she said told The Herald-Dispatch in November 2005.. "It looked like it was coming straight toward our house. It was breaking off trees when it hit. It hit right around the road from us.
"The devastating thing was I just knew who that was (aboard)."
Former acting Marshall University president Sam Clagg
Sam Clagg, a former acting Marshall University president, was chairman of Marshall's geography department and president of the university council when the crash occurred on his 50th birthday. He was instrumental in coordinating faculty and students during the aftermath, as well as helping identify victims and selecting a memorial site at Spring Hill Cemetery where six unidentified players are buried.
"Anytime you have an ailment, you have scar tissue," he said in November 2005. "Never does that day go by that I don't give it a thought."
Clagg said the crash, however, unified Marshall and the Huntington community in a way that's impossible to comprehend three and a half decades later.
"I'm a great believer in the fact that time solves every problem," he said. "Through the years, we have forgotten the horrendous portions of it and remembered the goodness that may have been in it. Above all, the magnificence of the people involved should be remembered."
Mortuary owner Bob Carpenter
Bob Carpenter of Klingel-Carpenter Mortuary in Huntington said that sense of togetherness was something special - even in a profession accustomed to death and grieving.
"Everyone pulled together in a very strong way," he said in November 2005. "This is what made it so unusual and so unique. ... You see one or two (deaths), but you don't see 75."
Carpenter also was instrumental in helping during the crash aftermath. He even was approached by the National Funeral Directors Association to help communities throughout the U.S. deal with disasters resulting in widespread death - something he did during the 1970s and 1980s.
Mortuary owner Lucy Rollins
Lucy Rollins, whose family operates Rollins Funeral Home in Kenova, vividly remembers where she was the foggy, rainy evening of Nov. 14, 1970. A call from a family member shattered a quiet night at a Gallipolis, Ohio, motel with family and friends.
"That put a black cloud over us," she said in November 2005. "We went down to eat, but we couldn't really eat."
Rollins' family, including her late brother-in-law Walter "Lefty" Rollins Jr., also were heavily involved in the recovery effort. The Federal Aviation Administration requested their help, and Walter Rollins, a coroner, helped identify many of the victims' remains.
Lucy Rollins said the emotional impact of the crash has resonated throughout the Tri-State and beyond for many reasons. Most prominently, she said, the crash occurred practically in local residents' back yards and took the lives of so many people in their prime, including physicians, a dentist, a City Council member and a well-known local car dealer.
"It was such a tragic accident, and life goes on," Lucy Rollins said. "You never forget something like that. You never forget death, but you learn you can't do anything about it, and you keep going."