Multimedia"We are Marshall" song by Ryan Parker
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Deputy sheriff watched in disbelief as events unfolded on television
By DAVID WALSH
HUNTINGTON -- For Doug Myers, the first bit of news about Marshall football on Nov. 14, 1970 wasn't good. East Carolina defeated the Thundering Herd, 17-14, that afternoon in Greenville, N.C.
The second bit of Marshall football news for Myers, on what had turned into a rainy evening in Huntington, turned out to be devastating.
A Southern Airways chartered jet bringing the team, coaches, athletic department staff and fans back from the game crashed short of the runway at Tri-State Airport in Kenova. There were no survivors in the party of 75.
"I remember watching TV," said Myers, a deputy for the Cabell County Sherriff's Department at the time of the tragedy. "The flash came on. I couldn't believe it. That many lost. I'd flown into the airport before and was scared."
Today, Myers works for Aaron's Products and also operates The Peanut Shoppe in the Huntington Arcade on Fourth Avenue downtown.
As that eventful night went on, Myers remembers seeing footage of law enforcement officials roaming the hillside looking for survivors.
"You're glued to the set, but you can't see much," he said. "You can only hope someone survives. It was so sad. You think about the football players first. They were so young. This community lost a lot of good people, too. Everybody knew somebody who was lost."
Suggestions were made for Marshall to drop football after the crash because the Herd was coming off a recruiting scandal two years earlier (one year probation by the NCAA for 140 violations) and the school last had a winning season in 1964.
Marshall opted to carry on and Myers was happy.
"You hoped they'd play," he said. "You knew it would be a while (to be competitive). You were starting all over."
In the home opener in 1971, the Herd knocked off Xavier, 15-13, with a touchdown on the final play of the game.
"You'd have thought that would've been impossible," he said. "We hung in there no matter what the score was."
Myers and his wife, Donna, were regulars at Fairfield Stadium. When Fairfield Stadium was torn down to make way for Cabell Huntington Hospital medical facilities, Myers collected some bricks. He cleaned one up and presented to his son, Nathan. Another brick, after being cleaned, will be displayed in the Marshall-dominated Peanut Shoppe window. The stained glass window is decorated with MU letters created by another son, Stetson.
Today, the Myers family attends games at Joan C. Edward Stadium.
In 1984, Marshall beat East Tennessee State, 31-28, in the final game of the regular season to finish 6-5 and end the long streak of losing seasons. Since then, the Herd's gone on to dominate in the Southern Conference and Mid-American Conference, had unbeaten seasons, was ranked in the NCAA Division I-A Top 10, traveled to bowl games and produced three Heisman Trophy candidates.
"You hear that cheer, 'We Are Marshall'," Myers said. "You think about 1970 up to now. You get excited."
The plane crash is sure to be featured on newscasts Monday when the school holds the annual memorial service at the Marshall Memorial Student Center.
"I'll stop, watch and remember," Myers said. "We have much to be thankful for."