University of Evansville holds ceremonies honoring 45th anniversary of fatal plane crash
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - On Memorial Plaza, friends, family, and community members gathered to hear from the University of Evansville’s chaplain, listen to a bagpipe performance, and of course, hear the Freedom Bell ring.
The people that attended the ceremony listened to 29 straight rings, each accompanied by a name, as they do every year, honoring the 29 people killed.
“In memory of those gallant and devoted men who gave everything they had, even life itself, to the sport, and to the university they loved.”
Those are the words inscribed on the memorial dedicated to the 29 people who lost their lives on December 13, 1977.
As that bell rang, onlookers in the crowd bowed their heads, closed their eyes, or wiped away tears.
Lana Dougherty, a UE women’s basketball player who was on the team when the plane went down remembers what that day was like.
“We heard that there was a plane crash, and it wasn’t long after that and it was rumored that it was the University of Evansville Men’s team,” says Dougherty.
Dougherty played center for the Purple Aces from 1977 to 1980. She remembers leaving practice in a time before cell phones and other technology, and looking at her fellow peers as word spread across campus.
“It was a very somber, I mean you know I can close my eyes and still see everybody just kind of walking around like a zombie,” says Dougherty.
Looking around at bowed heads as bagpipes ring out and the bell rings 29 times, Dougherty knows those feelings of loss will always be there.
“It’s still very raw. I think anybody that was here will tell you that it’s just something that never will go away. It’s still very, very, very raw.”
Even still, in the words of UE President Wallace Graves just days after Air Indiana Flight 216 crashed into the city’s north side, “out of the agony of this hour, we will rise.”
The service at noon today was only one of two.
The second service was held at Neu Chapel with all different speakers, but a similar message at 7 P.M.
At 7:22 P.M., a moment of silence was observed, in honor of when the plane went do
Our Brady Williams was live at 6 p.m. before the ceremony began.
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