The first lady will host a diverse group of guests in the House chamber this evening for President Obama’s State of the Union address. There will be the secretary, the manufacturing plant manager and the teacher. And then there will be the seasoned terrorist hunter who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Adm. William McRaven will be joining first lady Michelle Obama after an extraordinary year that saw not only the killing of the leader of al-Qaeda but his own promotion to head of the elite U.S. Special Operations Command. He also happens to have been named one of Time Magazine’s runners-up for Person of the Year.
The Texas native and Navy SEAL helped oversee manhunts for years of Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda operatives around the world. He previously served as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.
In April, he was nominated for his fourth star.
McRaven has said little publicly about the raid that killed bin Laden, or his role in it. In an interview with Time, he described the operation in the same self-effacing and mild-mannered fashion for which he has become known inside the clandestine world of special operations.
“We do raids. We fly in by helicopters, we assault compounds, we, you know, we grab the bad guy or whatever is required, and we get out. So admittedly that particular operation was a lot sportier, a lot further, a lot more political ramifications, a lot riskier for a lot of reasons, but basically similar to things that we do every night,” he said.
McRaven will be sharing the first lady’s box this evening with other representatives of the military: the spouse of a Navy commander as well as Navy Capt. Mark Kelley, a retired astronaut and husband of outgoing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The first lady’s guests also include Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace, a prominent member of Servicemembers United, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian troops and veterans.