HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Of the thousands of fans in Joan C. Edwards Stadium Friday, few if any traveled from as far away as David Dingess.
The Ona native serves in the U.S. Air Force and just served a deployment in Qatar. He's been stationed out of Anchorage, Alaska the past eight years, but wherever his service for the country has taken him, he's found a way to follow the Herd.
"He's a diehard Marshall fan,” his wife Kristin Dingess, who’s been with him in Alaska the past three years, said. “Any time they're on, even when he was overseas, he would listen or try to watch online."
"I just grew up watching it, got really attached,” Dingess said. “It’s not hard to do growing up in the 90s watching Chad Pennington and Randy Moss."
This Thanksgiving weekend, he was able to come home for a visit. With Marshall playing for a berth in a conference title game for the first time in 11 years, there was no way he was missing it, and he wanted all his loved ones in the stands with him.
"I definitely wanted all my friends and family to be here," he said.
"He's loved Marshall since he was a little kid,” Dingess’s grandfather Russell Blake said. “We went to the championship games, a lot of good memories. It makes me so happy just to have him here. It means a lot."
There was no shortage of reasons for being thankful after kickoff as Marshall rolled to a 59-28 blowout win over East Carolina.
"Being with my friends and family was just as important as this big win,” Dingess said after the final seconds ticked off the game clock. “It's great to be here."
Dingess returns to Alaska on Dec. 10. If the Conference USA title game ends up being played in Huntington, he'll be able to attend that as well.
He says even if it's played in Texas, which it may be, he'd strongly consider going there, too.