CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday signed a bill establishing Nov. 14 as an annual memorial day for the worst sports disaster in U.S. history, a plane crash that killed most of Marshall University’s football team.
Justice said he was a student at Marshall and was in his residence hall when the crash occurred.
“Really, really sad day,” Justice said at an administration briefing. “We should never forget.”
On Nov. 14, 1970, the chartered jet crashed in fog and rain into a hillside upon approach to an airport near Huntington as the team was returning from a game at East Carolina, killing all 75 on board. The victims included 36 football players and 39 school administrators, coaches, fans, spouses and flight crew.
Marshall decided to continue the football program. But for the university and the entire community, it left a huge void. Some who were left off the flight and did not make the trip or lost loved ones spent the next five decades with crippling questions that had no answers.
Marshall hired Jack Lengyel as the new football coach in 1971. The program’s rebuilding was the subject of the 2006 movie “We are Marshall” starring Matthew McConaughey as Lengyel.