Two Soldiers and their families were recognized Sunday at Nationals Stadium as part of the baseball team's Fathers Day Military Appreciation game.

Maj. Sheldon Smith, 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ladner, 1st Army Division East, were invited with their families as special guests to the Nationals vs. White Sox game June 20.

Both Soldiers and families were featured on the stadium's jumbo-sized screen as they were given baseball prize packs and gift cards. As each Soldier was filmed, the entire crowd in attendance rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to the troops.

"The kids are excited to be here today, and so am I," Smith said, admitting that his oldest son Cody, 13, is a die-hard Yankees fan, though the Nationals are "growing on him." Smith was also accompanied by his wife of 11 years, Lolita, and his other two sons, Jesse, 9, and Dakota, 8.

Smith has 20 years of service with the Army - 16 with the D.C. National Guard and four as a Reservist - and has deployed once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan, where he served in several public affairs positions.

Smith's oldest son Cody said he thinks it's "cool" that his dad is in the Army, but he doesn't like when his dad is on deployment. However, he thinks that all kids with parents in the military should truly value their families.

"Stick with your family, because when everyone else is gone, they are the ones who will always be with you," he said.

Ladner was accompanied to the game by his wife of four years, Stephanie, and his sons Kelvin Jr., 2, and Jayden, 5 months.

"This is our first time at Nationals Park. We're having a good time - my son loves baseball," he said as young Kelvin toyed with a Nationals batting helmet at his dad's feet.

Ladner is a senior driver and Non-commissioned Officer-in-Charge for protocol with 10 years of service in the Army. He deployed twice to Iraq for two 15-month tours of duty, and another time to Afghanistan.

"It has it's challenging moments, but there are rewards as well," he said of his experience in the Army. "But overall, I wouldn't change it for the world... I like to travel and see parts of the world, but I can also provide well for my family."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16