1970 Plane crash devastates Marshall University On November 14, 1970, a chartered jet carrying most of the Marshall University football team clips a stand of trees and crashes into a hillside just two miles from the Tri-State Airport in Kenova, West Virginia. The team was returning from that day’s game, a 17-14 loss to East Carolina University. Thirty-seven Marshall football players were aboard the plane, along with the team’s coach, its doctors, the university athletic director and 25 team boosters–some of Huntington, West Virginia’s most prominent citizens–who had traveled to North Carolina to cheer on the Thundering Herd. “The whole fabric,” a citizen of Huntington wrote later, “the whole heart of the town was aboard.” The crash was just the most tragic in a string of unfortunate events that had befallen the Marshall football team since about 1960. The university stadium, which hadn’t been renovated since before World War II, was condemned in 1962. From the last game of the 1966 season to midway through the 1969 season, the team hadn’t won any games. Making matters worse, the NCAA had suspended Marshall for more than 100 recruiting violations. (The Mid-American Conference had expelled the team for the same reason.) But Marshall seemed to be getting back on track: It had fired the dishonest coaches, built a new Astroturf field and started winning games again. The Thundering Herd had lost a squeaker to East Carolina on the 14th, and was looking forward to a promising season the next year. For Huntington, the plane crash was “like the Kennedy assassination,” one citizen remembers. “Everybody knows where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.” The town immediately went into mourning. Shops and government offices closed; businesses on the town’s main street draped their windows in black bunting. The university held a memorial service in the stadium the next day and cancelled Monday’s classes. There were so many funerals that they had to be spread out over several weeks. In perhaps the saddest ceremony of all, six players whose remains couldn’t be identified were buried together in Spring Hill Cemetery, on a hill overlooking their university. Marshall got a new football coach–Jack Lengyel, from the College of Wooster in Ohio–and set about rebuilding the team. The NCAA gave the Thundering Herd special permission to let freshmen play on the varsity squad, and Lengyel cobbled together a ragtag group of first-years, walk-ons and the nine veteran players who hadn’t been on the plane that night. The team lost its first game of the 1971 season but–with a last-second touchdown that seemed almost too good to be true–defeated Ohio’s Xavier University 15-13 in its first home game since the crash. The Herd won one other game that season, and nine in Lengyel’s four-year tenure at Marshall, but none was as emotional as the first. 1882 Franklin Leslie kills Billy “The Kid” Claiborne On this day, the gunslinger Franklin “Buckskin” Leslie shoots the Billy “The Kid” Claiborne dead in the streets of Tombstone, Arizona. The town of Tombstone is best known today as the site of the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. In the 1880s, however, Tombstone was home to many gunmen who never achieved the enduring fame of Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday. Franklin “Buckskin” Leslie was one of the most notorious of these largely forgotten outlaws. There are few surviving details about Leslie’s early life. At different times, he claimed to have been born in both Texas and Kentucky, to have studied medicine in Europe, and to have been an army scout in the war against the Apache Indians. No evidence has ever emerged to support or conclusively deny these claims. The first historical evidence of Leslie’s life emerges in 1877, when he became a scout in Arizona. A few years later, Leslie was attracted to the moneymaking opportunities of the booming mining town of Tombstone, where he opened the Cosmopolitan Hotel in 1880. That same year he killed a man named Mike Killeen during a quarrel over Killeen’s wife, and he married the woman shortly thereafter. Leslie’s reputation as a cold-blooded killer brought him trouble after his drinking companion and fellow gunman John Ringo was found dead in July 1882. Some Tombstone citizens, including a young friend of Ringo’s named Billy “The Kid” Claiborne, were convinced that Leslie had murdered Ringo, though they could not prove it. Probably seeking vengeance and the notoriety that would come from shooting a famous gunslinger, Claiborne unwisely decided to publicly challenge Leslie, who shot him dead. The remainder of Leslie’s life was equally violent and senseless. After divorcing Killeen in 1887, he took up with a Tombstone prostitute, whom he murdered several years later during a drunken rage. Even by the loose standards of frontier law in Tombstone, the murder of an unarmed woman was unacceptable, and Leslie served nearly 10 years in prison before he was paroled in 1896. After his release, he married again and worked a variety of odd jobs around the West. He reportedly made a small fortune in the gold fields of the Klondike region before he disappeared forever from the historical record.