Several Huntington-area family members of victims of the 1970 Marshall University plane crash are trying to locate other surviving family members living throughout the United States to inform them of events surrounding the Dec. 12 premiere of “We Are Marshall.”

One of those anticipated events is a special screening by Warner Bros. Pictures of the movie that will be shown to surviving family members before the premiere.

“We are thankful to Warner Bros. for thinking of the families of the victims, and working to provide them with the opportunity to see the film together, away from the spotlight,” said Dr. H. Keith Spears, vice president for communications at Marshall. “Everyone is sensitive to the emotions of the family members as the movie release date approaches, and the emotions they will experience when they see it for the first time.”

“We Are Marshall” director McG has spoken many times in recent months about the film crew’s desire to be sensitive not only to the community and university, but to the surviving family members as well.

“We have a very, very important responsibility and we just want to do it properly,” McG said before filming began last spring.

Finding family members of each player, coach, administrator, booster and the flight crew is the objective of a group of local surviving family members.

“The positive impact of reuniting with other family members is something I would have greatly underestimated if I hadn’t experienced it during the filming,” said Michele Craig, whose father, Michael Prestera, died in the crash. “When several of us realized there wasn’t a comprehensive contact list for each family of the Marshall plane crash, a group of family members formed to collect that information. Our goal is to establish a lasting communication system. We certainly hope that anyone having contact information for surviving family members will forward it to us.”

The search for family names is in conjunction with Marshall’s Student Government Association’s effort to add to the invitation list to the annual Memorial Service, which takes place each Nov. 14 at the Memorial Student Center on Marshall’s Huntington campus. This year’s service, which starts at noon, will be the 36th since the crash on Nov. 14, 1970.

“Over the years we as Student Government in conjunction with the Alumni Association and the president’s office have tried our best to keep updated contact information,” Student Body President Ben Sandy said. “However, as the years pass and people change addresses, phone numbers, e-mails, etc., we struggle to ensure that our information is the most up-to-date. We encourage anyone with ties to the tragedy and the Marshall community of 1970 to come forth and be added to our contact information.”

Sandy said the annual ceremony honors those who lost their lives in the plane crash.

“We hope to reach out to as many families and friends of victims as possible to not only invite them to attend this year’s memorial ceremony, but to know that their legacies will live on from year to year and they will not be forgotten,” he said.

“We Are Marshall,” a Warner Bros. Pictures production, follows the story of the crash near Tri-State Airport in Huntington, of Marshall’s football team, and the ensuing recovery not only of the program, but of the city. Some of the film’s stars are Matthew McConaughey as Coach Jack Lengyel, Matthew Fox as Assistant Coach Red Dawson, and David Strathairn as acting MU President Donald Dedmon.

Anyone with information regarding family members of the crash victims may call the Marshall University Alumni Association at (800) 682-5869 or e-mail Parker Ward, another surviving family member, at

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