Marshall University hosts 50th fountain ceremony: Thundering Herd “family” remembers plane crash

West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Outside of Marshall University’s Memorial Student Center, friends, family, and alumni gathered for the 50th Annual Fountain Ceremony.

On November 14, 1970, the Marshall football team was traveling back from East Carolina University when their chartered jet clipped a stand of trees and crashed into a hillside. The crash happened almost two miles from the Tri-state Airport in Kenova, WV.

Each year, Marshall University remembers those lives lost with the ceremony of “turning off the fountain.” This year, the ceremony was invitation only with a limited number of spots available.

The players, coaches, and community members killed in the crash each received their own banner on campus commemorating the 50th anniversary.

Former Marshall football player Delongelo Brown, son of Larry “The Governor” Brown says he remembers that tragic day well. Having the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps has helped him understand what it means to be a son of Marshall.

I didn’t understand what happened. When I got here and I got a chance to play, I understood a lot better.

Delongelo Brown, son of #68 Larry “The Governor” Brown

The Thundering Herd was returning from a loss to East Carolina University. A few of the players on the 1970 East Carolina team came here on this special day. Each player placed a rose near the fountain paying their respects to the players and coaches they shook hands with.

The ceremony also featured musical performances by students on campus as well as Grammy award-winning artist Michael W. Smith, who, at the time of the accident, lived only eight minutes from the crash site.

Banners were also places around campus each with the picture and name of a the student athletes, coaches, or community members who were on the plane.

Among the community members killed on the flight was Mike Prestera Jr.’s father, Michael Prestera Sr. He vividly recalls his father’s last reaction before getting on the plane.

We said goodbye to him and he flew off, but he flew off happy and he flew off following a passion to support the Marshall University football program.

Mike Prestera Jr., son of Michael Prestera

Near the end of the ceremony, the crowd chanted three words that mean the world to the entire thundering herd family, “We are Marshall.”

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