Daughter of former residents plays ball at the White HouseChild of fighter pilot takes part in event honoring military families

By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

Sept. 16, 2008 - The daughter of former Sulphur Springs residents took part in a Sept. 7 T-ball game that ended a seven-year tradition started by President George W. Bush in recognition of the role baseball has played in American history.

Madison Horn, the 7-year-old daughter of Lt. Cmdr. Mike "Fog" Horn and Tracy Horn, took the field for the South Lawn Sluggers in the 20th and final "Salute To The Troops" exhibition game honoring families from all branches of U.S. military services.

Madison is well known to readers of the "Tira News" published Wednesdays in the News-Telegram. Madison is the granddaughter of Liz Steinsiek of Sulphur Springs, Gary Underwood of Kissimmee, Fla., and Susan Gatewood of Sulphur Springs. She is the great-granddaughter of B.A. and Pat Lyle of Como and Virginia Underwood of Beech Mountain, N.C.

Lt. Cmdr. Horn, who attended the U.S. Naval Academy after graduating from Sulphur Springs High School in 1991, is currently serving as a Navy pilot in Strike Fighter Squadron Eight One, also known as the "Sunliners," stationed at the Master Jet Base at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va.

He recently completed two combat deployments while attached to Carrier Air Wing 11 on board CVN-68, better known as the U.S.S. Nimitz, the lead ship of its class and one of the largest warships in the world.

His wife, Tracy, is also a graduate of SSHS.

President Bush began sponsoring T-ball games on the south lawn of the White House soon after taking office in 2001. The games are designed to encourage fitness among America's youths and promote the national pastime to people of all ages. Every game has had a different theme designed to honor groups of people for their service both to the United States country and to Little League International.

This year, the president and first lady invited sons and daughters of active-duty military personnel to take part in the friendly competition.

President Bush told the 5- to 8-year-old little leaguers, "We are really looking forward to seeing you all play, and it gives us a chance to thank your moms and dads for their sacrifice and service to the United States of America."

Special guests in attendance at the game were Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Ambassador Karen Hughes; the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen; Gen. Peter Pace, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Bernie Williams, a five-time All-Star for the New York Yankees.

The President started the game by reciting the Little League pledge followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Rascal Flatts.

Another tradition in the White House T-Ball game was included in the final game: Everybody won. The game is played with no outs or strikes, and nobody keeps score. The game ends after each youngster has a turn at bat. Each player also went home with a ball autographed by the president.

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