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Sierra Vista resident recalls Marshall plane crash more than 50 years later

Posted at 10:36 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 01:36:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Ron Reddock wasn't supposed to be on the 1970 flight that killed all 75 people on board.

"It was a rainy, misty, foggy night," said Reddock. "Chilly."

The Marshall University football team was traveling back from a loss at East Carolina when their plane clipped a tree close to the Huntington Tri-State Airport and crashed.

"It was shock, and it was mourning."

Reddock was a freshman for the 1970 Thundering Herd. At the time, freshmen couldn't play varsity football, so his life was spared. But not for his teammates and the others aboard that flight.

"It was a very confusing to have to experience all that death at age 18 not knowing what life was all about."

Reddock would be an offensive guard on the following season's 1971 Marshall team.

"There is a necessity to build something after it burns."

His 1971 team was nicknamed "The Young Herd" by coach Jack Lengyel. They were profiled in the 2006 movie, "We are Marshall" starring Matthew McConaughey.

"In retrospect, it was necessary to have a team called "The Young Thundering Herd" if we were going to keep playing football at Marshall."

Since 1971, Marshall has enjoyed much success on the football field. The rule change that allowed freshmen to play varsity that year, in order to field a team, remains. And, Reddock has used a lesson from the tragedy in his career as an Arizona teacher.

"It isn't me that's special. We all have a uniqueness to us."

It's now been a half century since Reddock played for Marshall in 1971. It was a year that began a healing process for Marshall University, and the town of Huntington, West Virginia. Just recently, Reddock returned for his 50-year reunion.

"It's just an acknowledgment that there is a legacy that I'm part of."