Greenlee, a safety, returned to the program in the spring of 1971 and left the team a few weeks before the season opener. He stayed at MU and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism, and is currently a free-lance writer based in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Indeed, Greenlee said the book sprouted from a first-person feature he was invited to write for the Winston-Salem Journal, but was not published. Eventually, he tracked down a number of those deeply involved, from freshman football players to non-football classmates, to the lucky ones not on the trip to girlfriends of crash victims. All these stories grab at you.
But the more sobering moments come in Chapter 10, where he tells about those who were unwilling to address the crash for many years - including himself. When people such as Janice Cooley (girlfriend of Art Harris), former cheerleader Debbie (Bailey) Bowen and many others opened up, Greenlee says he repeatedly learned things that had him saying, "I never heard that before."
For his part, Greenlee consciously avoided most of the crash coverage in 1970, though he participated in it. (He covered the National Transportation Safety Board's hearing for The Parthenon student newspaper.) He points out something I hadn't considered - there were no grief counselors as we have today, and the term "post traumatic stress" had not been widely coined.
A lot of grief and stress was internalized for years.
I found the book well written and easy to follow, and I zipped through it in three or four sittings. Upon finishing it, I was amazed, entertained and saddened all at once, but somehow wanting more. Perhaps it's just me - I never go a year without hearing or reading a crash-related story that didn't (a) make my jaw drop, (b) almost make me cry or (c) both.
I kind of wish Greenlee would have tapped me on the shoulder a year ago, but that's no problem. Much like other works about the plane crash, this book is timeless.
Contact Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.