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Osama killer, astronaut, and openly lesbian colonel to sit with Michelle Obama at SOTU

The admiral that devised the plan to kill Osama bin Laden, an astronaut, and a high-ranking gay Air Force intelligence officer are among the guests who will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight’s State of the Union address. Admiral William McRaven, the head of Special Operations Command, former head of the Joint Special ...

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

The admiral that devised the plan to kill Osama bin Laden, an astronaut, and a high-ranking gay Air Force intelligence officer are among the guests who will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight's State of the Union address.

Admiral William McRaven, the head of Special Operations Command, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the architect of the strike that killed bin Laden in Pakistan last May, will be sitting in the first lady's private box at tonight's speech. He will be joined by several other guests, each with their own connection to one of President Barack Obama's policy initiatives.

The admiral that devised the plan to kill Osama bin Laden, an astronaut, and a high-ranking gay Air Force intelligence officer are among the guests who will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight’s State of the Union address.

Admiral William McRaven, the head of Special Operations Command, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the architect of the strike that killed bin Laden in Pakistan last May, will be sitting in the first lady’s private box at tonight’s speech. He will be joined by several other guests, each with their own connection to one of President Barack Obama‘s policy initiatives.

Highlighting Obama’s successful effort to repeal the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy,  the first lady will also host openly gay Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"[Wallace] currently lives in McLean, Virginia with her partner of over a decade, Kathy Knopf," the White House said in a release. "In December, Ms. Knopf attended Col. Wallace’s promotion ceremony and participated in the ‘pinning on’ of Col. Wallace’s rank, marking the first such event reported following the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’"

Wallace is slated to deploy to Afghanistan again this spring.

Also joining FLOTUS will be Mark Kelly, the retired Navy captain who is both an astronaut and the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head during a public event in Arizona a year ago.

In order to spotlight her work in supporting military families, FLOTUS will also host Army Sergeant Ashleigh Berg, who has served two tours in Iraq and whose husband Sergeant Matthew Berg is in Afghanistan right now on his third tour.

Among the others rounding out the first lady’s box will be Vice President Joseph Biden‘s wife Jill Biden, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, Alicia Boler-Davis, a plant manager for General Motors in Detroit, and famed investor Warren Buffett‘s secretary Debbie Bosanek.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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