Spencer Stone, one of three young men from Sacramento who gained worldwide fame for foiling a mass shooting in Europe in August, will attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.
Stone, a staff sergeant stationed at Travis Air Force Base, said he learned of the invitation last Monday when the White House called during his morning commute from Sacramento.
“They called my cellphone directly,” he said. “I was surprised.”
Stone flew out of Sacramento at 7 a.m. Sunday. After a layover in Dallas, he arrived in Washington, D.C., at 6 p.m. Eastern time. He spoke with a Sacramento Bee reporter from Maxime, a Georgetown steakhouse where he was having dinner.
Stone said he expects to spend time doing media events at the White House on Monday before visiting CNN studios for an interview. He also hopes to find time for sightseeing with an uncle and a friend who are traveling with him.
On Tuesday, Stone will sit in the first lady’s guest box with about two dozen other people invited because, according to a White House news release, “they represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous.”
Among the other guests: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Syrian refugee Refaai Hamo, and Ryan Reyes, whose partner Larry Kaufman was one of 14 people killed last month in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino.
Aside from the first lady, Stone may be the most well-known person in the box. He and local childhood friends Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos gained worldwide fame last summer for overpowering a man armed with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition on a crowded train bound for Paris. Parades, medals, a visit to the Oval Office and television appearances followed. Stone, who was injured in the struggle with the gunman, received a Purple Heart and a promotion from airman first class to staff sergeant.
Everything I’m doing is once in a lifetime. I’m enjoying every second of it. If I’m well known, at least it’s for doing something good.
Spencer Stone, one of three men from Sacramento who gained fame for foiling a mass shooting in Europe
In October, Stone again confronted a life-or-death challenge when he was stabbed during a late-night altercation in midtown Sacramento. His wounds – a punctured heart, liver and lung – were so serious that police expected he would die. UC Davis Medical Center surgeons saved his life, and after about a week in the hospital he was discharged.
“I know internally that things are still going on,” Stone said, “but I feel great.”
He has returned to full-time hours at Travis, where he works as a pediatric medical technician.
But for a few days, that life is on hold while he’s in the nation’s capital. Stone said he’s not tired of the fame or the attention.
“Everything I’m doing is once in a lifetime,” he said. “I’m enjoying every second of it. If I’m well known, at least it’s for doing something good.”