On a rainy hill side in Wayne County, West Virginia, the lives of 75 people were lost in the worst single air tragedy in NCAA sports history. Among the losses were nearly the entire Marshall University football team, coaches, flight crew, numerous fans, and supporters. The event marked a boundary by which an entire community would forever measure time… before or after “The Crash”. This site is a memorial to the lives that were lost on that evening; to honor those men and women who made a mark in the hearts of a school, a community and a nation.
The Memorial Student Center Fountain was dedicated to the memory of the plane crash victims on November 12, 1972, by President G. Barker. Each year on the anniversary of that fateful day – November 14 – a memorial service is held, which includes the traditional laying of the wreath. Then the water is turned off until next spring. More than 13 feet high and weighing 6,500 pounds, the fountain was created by sculptor Harry Bertovia. It was his hope that the fountain would “commemorate the living – rather than death – on the waters of life, rising, receding, surging so as to express upward growth, immortality and eternality.”
The bronze plaque bears this simple, eloquent inscription:
“They shall live on in the hearts of their families and friends forever, and this memorial records their loss to the university and to the community.”
On November 14, 1970, Marshall University and the entire community of Huntington, West Virginia, experienced the greatest air tragedy in the history of college athletics. Seventy-five members of the Marshall football team, coaches, university staff, community members, and crew died in the crash. In 2006, more than 35 years later, Warner Bros. and Thunder Road Pictures produced a feature film about the crash and Marshall’s struggle to field a team in the ensuing years. We invite you to learn more about the film project by using the link below.