Additions to Memorial '70 complete the story of survivors and teammates

  • Members of the early 1970s Wichita State football teams want to honor the people who carried on without their fallen teammates and friends.
  • A sculpture recognizes the survivors of the 1970 plane crash, and the names of the people who flew safely on the "Black plane" are an addition to the existing upright Memorial '70 sculpture.
  • The annual Memorial '70 observance takes place on Friday, Oct. 2, for the 50th anniversary of the crash.

The idea started in 2010, after Randy Phillips visited Randy Jackson in his hospital room. Talking with Jackson brought back memories of Wichita State University football and the events that brought them together.

The visit also highlighted lost memories from the 1970 plane crash in Colorado.

“I had just left Randy Jackson’s hospital room as he was passing away and realized, at that time, I couldn’t recall all the survivors’ names,” Phillips said. “I wanted to finish the whole story.”

The story, told for years by the Memorial ’70 monument near the 18th Street and Hillside entrance to campus, now feels complete. A new sculpture recognizes the survivors of the crash. The names of teammates who landed safely in Utah that day are a fitting addition to the existing upright Memorial ’70 monument.

“One of the main reasons we did what we did was so the future generations would know that there were survivors,” Phillips said, “and how their lives were impacted, especially since they lived when so many didn’t. Most, if not all, suffered greatly in silence.”

The desire to honor teammates by telling the story of the crash motivated Phillips, as it has so many connected to the crash on Oct. 2, 1970 near Silver Plume, Colorado. The Memorial ’70 monument honors the 31 people – 14 student-athletes, 14 staff and boosters, and three crew members – who died as a result. The team was headed to Utah State for a game the next day.

Jackson, who died in July 2010 of pancreatic cancer, was one of the nine survivors of the crash.

The story includes those who carried on without their teammates. They keep their memory alive by telling the story, visiting the crash site on Mount Trelease and helping each other heal through the survivor’s guilt and pain.

Memorial '70 monument to survivors James Kellerman
A monument lists the names of the eight members of the football team who survived the 1970 plane crash in Colorado. The sculpture, located at Memorial '70, is designed in the shape of an airplane fuselage, similar to the area of the plane through which survivors escaped the wreckage.

Phillips and Bill Moore, a freshman on the 1970 team, started a fund-raising drive to add to the Memorial ’70 monument. Phillips transferred to Wichita State in 1971 to play quarterback and help the program rebuild.

“Randy came to me and said we ought to be doing something for these guys,” Moore said. “It’s important that we recognize (the survivors), particularly, because it’s been tough on them.”

Funded by around $25,000 in private donations, the additions recognize the burdens carried by the survivors and their teammates.

The new monument is designed in the shape of the fuselage near the wing, the area of the plane that broke open and allowed room for some people to escape. The monument features the names of the eight Shockers who survived the crash of the "Gold plane" (a pilot also survived).

The names of the members of the team who flew on the "Black plane" complete the upright monument that signifies the plane that landed safely in Logan, Utah.

“This is simple, and it tells the story,” Moore said.

The monument that lists the 31 names of those who died is unchanged. Moore contacted many of the families of the deceased to make sure they approved of the additions.

“We really wanted to be respectful of what this is about,” Phillips said.

Phillips, a partner at the Wichita architectural firm of Spangenberg Phillips Tice, designed the sculpture that features the survivors, with help from graphic designer Jason Ridder. Phillips and Moore worked with Ann Marie Siegwarth, director of development for the WSU Foundation, on the approval and details of installation. Updated landscaping around Memorial ’70 is also part of the new look.

“It’s been a great team effort,” Phillips said. “The university has been a wonderful partner to us, and much of that support is the direct result of Ann Marie Siegwarth’s unfailing support and promise to keep this a simple team effort.”

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