Skip to main content Skip to footer

BOGACZYK: Aretha Sings, Van Horn Plays

Clint Van Horn and his mother Aretha
Sept. 28, 2015

Marshall football will be strengthened by the presence of two Van Horns on the field on Saturday.

On Military Appreciation Day at Joan C. Edwards Stadium – when Old Dominion visits for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff for the Herd’s 2015 Conference USA opener – veteran right tackle Clint Van Horn will return from a two-game absence due to injury.

And very appropriately just before kickoff, the Star Spangled Banner will be sung by Van Horn’s mother, who is a retired U.S. Army captain.

That’s Aretha Gaye Franklin Van Horn, who is a Marshall graduate.

“Yeah, with a name like that, she’d better have good pipes,” said her son, the Herd’s All-C-USA senior and NFL prospect who is playing this season as a graduate student. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science in May.

Clinton Chris Van Horn III was born in Fort Benning, Ga., in February 1993 when his mother was stationed there. The Herd offensive tackle said his mother is named for the pop singer and has lived up to the famous music name as long as he can remember.

“She has sung in Praise and Worship in our church,” Van Horn said. “My dad (Clinton Van Horn Jr.) is a pastor of Living Water Church International in Beckley, and Mom has always been in Praise and Worship in whatever church we’ve been in, except in Georgia when I was really young.”

The Van Horns moved to Beckley when the Herd tackle was 9. Sarah Van Horn – Clint’s younger sister – is a Marshall senior majoring in criminal justice and wants to become a lawyer. “She speaks three or four languages,” the Herd lineman said.

The 6-foot-5 Van Horn’s pride in his mother’s service career was obvious.

“It’s very special to me for all of this to happen on Military Appreciation Day,” said Van Horn, who played for the Herd in the 2013 Military Bowl, too. “And it’s going to be even more special because I get to return with my teammates and be out there again and play again.



“So, it’s cool that she’s singing the National Anthem and I get to return to play the same day.”

Aretha Van Horn is a different kind of veteran than her son.

She is a Distinguished Military Graduate of Marshall (1989), with a bachelor of arts in Counseling and Rehabilitation. She was a member of the ROTC Thundering Herd Battalion, where as a Cadet she served on the Color Guard at the annual memorial service held at the Memorial Student Center Fountain Ceremony in honor of the 1970 plane crash victims.

On May 13, 1989, she was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant (Adjutant General’s Corps) in the Army and stationed at Fort Benning for four years. While at Fort Benning, she served in several capacities, reaching the goal of Chief of Personnel Actions.

She attained the rank of Captain prior to being honorably discharged. Van Horn’s military involvement remains strong, too. She works for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and has been employed at the Beckley VA Medical Center since October 2004.

Aaron Goebbel, the Herd’s associate athletic director for external affairs, said he learned of Van Horn’s singing prowess and considering her strong military and Herd football team connections, she made an obvious choice for the honor.

“It was something she wanted to do, and she asked me if I was OK with it,” her football-playing son said. “I was like, ‘I don’t care, Mom, you go ahead and do it.’ If she wants to do it, it’s great, because I love listening to her voice.

“I’m really, really proud of her. There aren’t too many people’s moms who have been in the military. It’s predominantly males who are in the military. So it’s different and interesting to have your mom there, and she was an officer on top of that, that makes it very special. That’s cool.”

Van Horn said his mother has sung the National Anthem previously and besides in church, she has sung at charity events and events and been involved with caroling.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to see her (sing), but I’d at least like to be able to hear it, if possible,” said Van Horn, who during that time frame will be in the final minutes of pregame with the Herd. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to at least listen to it, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch it happen.

“I’ve heard her sing the anthem before. I’ve heard her sing just about anything, as far at R&B, popular songs, things like that.

“It’s going to be very special for me.”