Marshall University

Football Team Plane Crash - 1970

 

September 2008

 

From the Marshall University Website Memorial:

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.

 

Southern Airlines Flight 932 left Kinston, North Carolina, at 6:38 p.m., carrying the Marshall University football team, coaching staff and fans to Huntington, West Virginia. After an uneventful flight, the crew contacted Huntington Airport tower at 7:23 p.m. and were cleared for a localizer approach on runway 11. The weather conditions were poor, mist and light rain with broken clouds at 500 feet. The plane descended below the Minimum Descent Altitude, striking trees on a hillside about one mile from the runway. The plane then crashed and burned.

“The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause was the descent below Minimum Descent Altitude during a non precision approach under adverse weather conditions, without visual contact with the runway environment. The Board has been unable to determine the reason for this descent, although the two most likely explanations are: a) improper use of cockpit instrument data; or b) an altimetry system error”

 

Fact vs. Fiction: We Are Marshall (The Movie)  Click Here

 

 

 

West Virginia State Historical Marker is located near Sweet Run, about 5 miles south of the Kenova/Ceredo

area near Huntington, on a short section of Old Rt. 75. 

 

 

 

View of the marker and memorial along Old Rt 75.

 

 

 

 

Wide angle view looking past the marker to the crash area.

 

 

 

 

Another view of the marker, memorial, and crash area. 

 

 

 

 

This West Virginia Historical Marker is located near the football stadium.

Marshall Memorial Boulevard runs to the Spring Hill Cemetery about 3 - 4 miles away.

 

 

 

Another view of the marker with the stadium visible in the background.

 

 

 

 

Memorial Fountain located in the heart of the Marshall University campus.

From the Marshall University Website Memorial:  The Memorial Student Center Fountain was dedicated to the memory of the plane crash victims on November 12, 1972, by President John 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 Bertoia. 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."

 

 

View of the Spring Hill Cemetery area where many of the victims are buried.

 

 

 

 

Nate Ruffin played football at Marshall University from 1968 through 1971 and served as Captain of the Young Thundering Herd in 1971.  He was not on the fateful trip because of an injury.  He died in October 2001 at the age of 51 and is buried at Spring Hill Cemetery next to six players who died in the crash whose bodies could not be identified and also alongside former Marshall Assistant Athletic Director Ed Starling.

 

 

 

Memorial at the Spring Hill Cemetery.

 

 

 

Another view of the memorial. 

 

 

I highly recommend the movie “We Are Marshall”

 

Back to RidingWV Home Page