Guests to State of the Union speech carry political messages

AP News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2018 12:23 AM
Guests to State of the Union speech carry political messages

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's guests for his State of the Union speech Tuesday include an Ohio welder who will benefit from his tax overhaul plan and the parents of two Long Island teenagers who were believed to be killed by MS-13 gang members.

Among his other guests are rescuers who battled wildfires in California and flooding in Texas, as well as a Marine who re-enlisted after losing his legs and going blind from a roadside bomb.

The guests will be seated in the box of first lady Melania Trump. Many have been selected to amplify the speech's theme, which White House officials have said is "building a safe, strong and proud America."

The president's address to Congress last year took an emotional turn when he introduced the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in a raid in Yemen.

The full list of attendees, according to the White House:

— Corey Adams, a welder in Dayton, Ohio, who plans to invest his extra savings from the tax overhaul plan into his daughters' education fund.

— Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens, the parents of Nisa Mickens, and Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, the parents of Kayla Cuevas. Nisa and Kayla's 2016 slayings were attributed to the MS-13 gang.

— Retired Cpl. Matthew Bradford, who stepped on a roadside bomb in 2007 while deployed in Iraq. He was blinded and lost his legs. After surgery, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps, becoming the first blind, double amputee to do so.

— Jon Bridgers, founder of the Cajun Navy, a nonprofit rescue and recovery group that provided aid to people in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

— David Dahlberg, a Southern California firefighter who saved 62 children and staff members from a wildfire that had encircled their camp.

— Officer Ryan Holets, a policeman in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who with his wife adopted a baby from parents who suffered from opioid addiction.

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— Ashlee Leppert, a Coast Guard technician who rescued dozens of people during last year's storms.

— Celestino "CJ" Martinez, a supervisory special agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit whose investigations have led to more than 100 arrests of MS-13 gang members.

— Staff Sgt. Justin Peck, a soldier credited with saving the life of Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy after a roadside bomb exploded in Syria in November.

— Preston Sharp, who launched the Flag and Flower Challenge to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.

— Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger, the owners of a Dayton, Ohio, manufacturing company that gave their employees a larger-than-expected Christmas bonus after the GOP tax law was enacted.