This granite cenotaph at Spring Hill Cemetery pays tribute to the 1970 Marshall University Football team and others who perished on November 14, 1970. After a tough loss in Greenville, North Carolina, Marshall University fans, football team, and staff boarded a flight departing for Huntington, WV. The plane crashed as it was approaching the Huntington Airport, and the lives of 75 people were lost in the worst single air tragedy in NCAA sports history. This tragic event would change Huntington and Marshall University forever.
A memorial service for all of the victims of the plane crash was held on Sunday, November 15, 1970 at 7:00pm, the same time Marshall University had been scheduled to play Ohio University. In honor of the victims who perished, Marshall University President, John G. Barker, and Vice-President, Donald Dedmon created a committee who created a memorial to those who lost their lives. The committee decided that there should be a memorial at the Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, because this is where some of the players are buried.
In addition to this memorial, there are several other physical sites of memory throughout the university and community. The city of Huntington renamed the street Marshall Memorial Blvd in honor of the victims. There is a second memorial to the victims at the Marshall University Student Center. On November 14th of every year, sons and daughters of Marshall from all over return to Huntington and the fountain to remember and pay tribute to the coaches, family, and friends that were lost on this day. During the memorial service, water to the fountain is turned off and there are speeches from loved ones who commemorate the loss of the seventy-five people whose lives were lost. The ceremony and events leading up to the day of remembrance also celebrate the resilience of the university and the community.