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Plane crash victims receive special honor

‘Big Green Memorial Highway’ to be dedicated Thursday in Kenova

By ANTHONY HANSHEW - The Herald-Dispatch


HUNTINGTON -- The sons and daughters of Marshall University lost in the 1970 plane crash soon will be memorialized near the site of the most catastrophic sports tragedy in American history.

On Thursday, the "Big Green Memorial Highway" will be dedicated, renaming a stretch of Kenova road intersecting where the plane carrying 75 Marshall players, coaches, administrators and supporters crashed on Nov. 14, 1970. The new road designation was sponsored in House resolutions by delegates Rick Thompson and Don Perdue.

The "Big Green Memorial Highway" will begin at the U.S. 52-U.S. 60 intersection near Kenova Elementary School and continue to Prichard. During the same ceremony, the "Robert L. Bradley, M.D., Ph.D., Brigadier General Memorial Highway" will be dedicated along a portion of I-64.

The City of Kenova will host the event, which begins at 4 p.m. at the Kenova Post Office. Gov. Bob Wise is expected to attend, along with numerous current and former Marshall representatives.

"We feel that it is important to honor the memory of some of the finest people of the Tri-State," Kenova city councilman Ric Griffith said. "The families that were lost were among of the Tri-State’s greatest leaders and individuals."

Griffith said renaming the "Big Green Memorial Highway" likely is the first in several projects dedicated to the plane crash. Also in the works are a visitor’s center and a bell tower and carillon constructed near the crash site.

Thursday’s ceremony coincides with the Bartrum and Brown Football Camp of Champions in Spring Valley, which will feature numerous former Marshall standouts. Various scheduling conflicts will keep some from attending on Thursday, but organizers hope Thundering Herd greats from the past will be in attendance.

Two-time Super Bowl champion Troy Brown of the New England Patriots is expected to attend, along with former Marshall teammate Phil Ratliff. Brown and Ratliff were members of Marshall’s 1992 NCAA Division I-AA national championship team.

Brown lives in Huntington in the offseason. Ratliff coached football at Spring Valley High School for four seasons before joining James Madison University’s staff this spring.

"It will be something important for all of us in the Marshall community," Ratliff said. "For Marshall players we know how important it is to keep in mind and continue to honor those that gave their life for the program."

<a href='http://www.herald-dispatch.com/2004/June/19/MUspot.htm' target='_blank'>http://www.herald-dispatch.com/2004/June/19/MUspot.htm</a>
Watching the story of that team on espnclassic one day put winning in perspective for me. Since seeing that, I've had a special place in my heart for Marshall.
Thank you for the kind words!!
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