HUNTINGTON -- Hysen Selman has seen the movie "We Are Marshall." Patty Smith, Selman's granddaughter who has ties to Marshall and Thundering Herd football, hasn't seen it.
The Warner Bros. Pictures movie that told the story about the Marshall plane crash on Nov. 14, 1970, and the university's and Huntington's efforts to bounce back from the tragedy made its debut on the silver screen just more than one year ago.
Selman's stepson, Jim "Jimo" Adams, was a starting offensive guard on the 1970 Thundering Herd. He was one of the 75 who perished when the chartered jet bringing the team back from a 17-14 loss to East Carolina crashed short of the runway at Tri-State Airport in Kenova.
One of the movie premiers was held in Huntington and Selman watched it in a private showing for parents and family members of crash victims at Marquee Cinemas. He has seen it one other time.
"I thought it would be a great idea," Selman, who lives in Mansfield, Ohio, said when he learned Warner Bros. was doing the movie. "It would tell Marshall's story. When it got close, I started thinking more about it. I didn't know at first what the storyline would be. Then I found out. It would be about the game and first year after crash. That jogged up a lot of memories."
Smith, after an exhaustive search through adoption registry sites, newspaper obituaries and yearbooks, found out on July 10, 2002, that Adams was her biological father. She was 30 when she started the search. On Nov. 21, 1970 -- the day Adams was buried in Mansfield -- Smith was born in Charleston. She was adopted by Andy and Vicki Smith of Charleston.
Today, Smith and husband Paul Roberts reside in Alexandria, Va. They have three children, Bayley (3) and twins Scarlett and Wylloh, who were born last Nov. 16.
"I'm hesitant to see it," Smith said of the movie that features Matthew McConaughey as Young Thundering Herd coach Jack Lengyel and Matthew Fox as assistant Red Dawson. "I know it will be emotional. It was a hectic year. I had the twins and it (movie) would've added more upset to it. Hysen's told me about it. I know it has some rough parts, but at the finish it's very uplifting."
Selman said the trip to Huntington for the premier was difficult.
"When I was driving down I got nervous," he said. "I was thinking when I was seeing the film what memories would be drawn up? The first 15 minutes are tough. I had tears rolling down. The scenes did bring back memories. We (his wife, Georgene, has since passed away) drove down after the crash. That trip was hard. The second time was easier. I knew what was coming. The movie was great. They did a helluva job."
Smith also knew the movie was in production. She got calls from family and friends about it. Then came the moment when she saw a movie trailer on the internet. The crash scene was part of that trailer.
"I said, 'Oh my God!' It was so horrifying," she said.
In February, Adams was inducted into the Mansfield High Hall of Fame. Smith joined Selman at the ceremony. The families linked by this amazing turn of events spend many holidays together. Selman was in Alexandria for Christmas.
"The year's gone by fast," he said. "I've talked to her about it. She has the ESPN production (about the Marshall crash and recovery). I told her to watch that first, then the movie. With all she's been through I know it would be difficult. When she saw that trailer she flipped out."
Three years ago November, Smith lost her adoptive father. She was in Mansfield preparing to go to a Pittsburgh Steelers-Cleveland Browns game (Selman's 70th birthday present). When she got to Mansfield, she received word she had to get to Williamsburg, Va., where the Smiths lived. Andy Smith's condition had taken a turn for the worse. She made it there, spent some time with him and then he passed on Nov. 15.
"She's a great person, a very strong person," Selman said of Smith, who's a hit with family and friends every time she visits Mansfield and goes to the The Wagon Wheel restaurant (which Hysen owns). "They love her. They ask about her all the time. To lose both dads. The only time I've seen her cry was at Georgene's funeral (Aug. 31, 2004).
"I'm not going to push her to watch it. When she's ready, she'll know the time. I'm 73 and I hope I get to see that day. Who knows? This (Christmas) might be the time."