West Virginia April 02, 2018
The Terrifying, Deadly Plane Crash In West Virginia That Will Never Be Forgotten
If there is one plane crash that will never be forgotten, it is the tragic 1970 flight in which the entire Marshall University football team lost their lives. That was a moment etched into the soul of West Virginia forever. It left a university without a football team, and a city without answers.
In 1970, the Marshall University football team in Huntington, The Thundering Herd, was one of the best in the region. It was the heart of the athletic program at the school. But that all changed on the evening of November 14, 1970.
The Herd were flying home in a DC-9 jet from an away game in North Carolina. Due to a miscalculation in the landing procedure, the plane, Southern Airways Flight 932, crashed into the side of a hill just short of the Huntington Tri-State Airport/Milton J. Ferguson Field.
The passengers included 37 team members, eight members of the coaching staff, 25 boosters and the five member flight crew. The plane was completely destroyed and no one survived.
The city was devastated. It marked one of the worst disasters in the history of Huntington and the state.
The fuselage was completely disintegrated, leaving only parts mostly whole, such as one of the engines.
Everything else was rubble.
But once the ashes settled, a question needed to be answered: Will Marshall try to rebuild the athletic program right away, with almost no viable athletes to join?
A football coach in Wooster, Ohio felt that the answer was yes and contacted the university to apply for the position.
The man's name was Jack Lengyel. And he was given the task of rebuilding a team using a ragtag group of students who weren't even technically allowed to play football, due to a regulation that only upper level grades could participate in the football program. It took some time, but eventually he was able to get approval to let freshmen play, allowing Lengyel to rebuild the team. that season, the team was renamed The Young Thundering Herd.
The rebuild wasn't so much about getting a team to compete and win, but restoring hope in the university and the community. It was about honoring the loss of the team and pressing forward against adversity and grief.
Eventually, the Marshall football program got back on its feet. It took many years, but Marshall once again found itself on top. Once again, they were winners.
But the 1970 loss has never been forgotten. Every year, the waters of the memorial fountain is tuned off at the same time, and the 75 lives that were lost that night are honored.
Where were you when you heard about the crash? Do you remember how West Virginians in your area reacted? Feel free to comment below and join the discussion.
To learn more about West Virginia, check out
these 14 reasons why there’s no place quite like Marshall University.