HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The brother of a Marshall University football player who died in the 1970 MU plane crash will speak during the commemorative service on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Memorial Student Center plaza, according to an MU news release.
Mo Lajterman lives in New Jersey and visits Marshall University about every couple of years. His late brother, Marcelo, was a kicker for the Thundering Herd in 1970. Marcelo Lajterman was only 19 when the plane crashed Nov. 14, 1970, killing all 75 aboard the chartered jet.
The plane, on its way back from a game in Greenville, N.C., crashed just short of the runway at Tri-State Airport in Wayne County, W.Va., near Ceredo.
Mo Lajterman will be joined at the service by his brothers Tito and Abe. The service starts at noon on the Memorial Student Center plaza on the Huntington campus. The public is invited to attend the event, which is conducted by the Student Government Association.
This year’s visit will be different for Mo Lajterman. He won’t be in the memorial service audience; rather, he’ll be on the stage as the featured speaker.
“It was very shocking when I got the call from (Athletic Director) Mike Hamrick; I never expected it,” Lajterman said. “I’m very honored and very emotional about it, but I had to take a couple of days to think about it. But now, I’m looking forward to it.”
Lajterman and his brothers have made the nine-hour drive from New Jersey to Huntington a few times in recent years. They usually spend much of their time on the road talking about Marcelo.
“I’m a very emotional person,” said Mo, who was 17 when the plane went down. “I’m not a professional speaker. I try to speak from the heart. It was such a tragic accident and it still feels like it was yesterday. We still cry over it. But these trips to Huntington help. We feel really close to our brother when we make these trips.”
The trips didn’t happen for many years after the crash. In fact, Mo came to Huntington for the first time – by himself – in 2000 for the premiere of the documentary, “Ashes to Glory.”
“I didn’t know a soul,” he said. “Now, we feel like Marshall’s our home.”
Although it has been 42 years since the crash, the Lajterman family makes sure that Marcelo’s name lives on through the Marcelo Lajterman Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The Marshall University Foundation, Inc., announced establishment of the scholarship in 2008. In 2010, members of the Lajterman family presented the foundation with a check for $23,000 to endow the scholarship. Marcelo wore number 23 on his Herd jersey.
Others who will speak in the memorial service include Marshall President Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, Football Coach Doc Holliday and a representative from the Marshall Alumni Association.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. Nick Rahall and Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito have been invited to attend and speak.
The service will conclude with the placing of the memorial wreath at the Memorial Fountain. The fountain will be silenced after the laying of the wreath and remain silent until next spring.
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