Star-studded night for soldier

HOUSTON Imagine being a 20-year-old private about to be deployed to Iraq and meeting the former commander-in-chief face to face.

"I was in the service, but a long time ago, and I loved every minute of it. It was a challenge right during the war, world war that would be, but you'll do well," said former President George H.W. Bush to Private Alan Porter.

So how did the meeting between the private and the president come about?

Well, we were first contacted by Private Porter's wife, who asked if we could help grant a special wish. Porter is fourth generation military and like family members before him, he packed his duffle bag to go to war.

"Tell daddy, 'Don't forget your hat'," Lindsey Porter, Alan's wife told their son, Cameron.

"Don't forget your hat," Cameron repeated to his dad.

Cameron's dad is going to work...for a long time. But before he goes, he wanted one thing.

"He does want more than anything to see the Astros," said Lindsey. "I'd love for him to at least be able to do that."

"Well, we can make that happen," we told her.

So we went out to Astros batting practice.

"Have you ever been to batting practice before?" we asked Alan.

"No, I haven't," he said. "It's pretty exciting."

And it's exciting to get ball caps and autographs from the players.

"Alan, nice to meet you. Hunter Pence," said Astros outfielder Hunter Pence when meeting the private.

"Hi, Cameron," said Astros pitcher Chris Sampson to Alan's son. "I'm Chris. Nice to meet you, buddy. I have a little man myself."

Manager Ed Wade sent Alan a good luck coin. Jose Cruz, Jr. and Carlos Lee signed his cap. Taking in a baseball game at Minute Maid Park with his family was just what Private Porter dreamed of. But there was more. The Porters met their host for the evening, Astros' owner Drayton McLane.

And to make what already was a special evening even more memorable, this new soldier was greeted before the game by President Bush.

"I'm proud of you," said the former commander-in-chief. "Your family must be proud of you. We Bushes are. I can tell you that goes not just for me, the old guy, but the president."

Private Porter will always remember that night at the old ball game.

A special thanks to President Bush, who when he heard the young soldier would be at the game, immediately wanted to meet him.

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