As President Barack Obama delivers his last State of the Union on Tuesday evening, a 23-year-old Sacramento man will be listening to the address, a special guest of the First Lady.
But not just any Sacramento man.
It's U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone, who will be one of 22 guests who were invited to sit in Michella Obama's State of the Union box, along with an empty seat left for those killed by gun violence.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told NBC Bay Area on Monday that Stone embraces everything that America stands for, noting that he and his friends put their lives on the line. Because of that, Earnest said, "we felt it was appropriate to have him as a guest."
While on a trip to Paris in August, Stone and his childhood friends, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, stopped a “potentially catastrophic act of terrorism,” the White House said.
Spencer and his pals, along with a British passenger subdued a gunman armed with a box cutter, a pistol, a can of lighter fluid, and an assault rifle with 300 rounds of ammunition as he tried to open fire aboard the crowded train. Stone’s thumb was nearly severed after being sliced with a box cutter, and he was stabbed in the neck.
French Interior Minister Brenard Cazeneuve said in August that the suspect, Ayoub El Khazzani, a Moroccan, might have links to radical Islam, but his lawyer said on French television that he was merely trying to rob the train, NBC News reported.
Stone said he acted in the interest of "survival" for him, his friends and everyone else on the train. "He seemed like he was willing to fight to the end — so were we," he said during a news conference at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Paris shortly after the attack.
Stone returned the United States a hero, was invited on talk show after talk show, and is continuing his work in medicine.
For his actions, Stone received a Purple Heart, the Airman's Medal, and a promotion to Staff Sergeant. The city of Sacramento threw a parade for him and his friends. And the trio also got to meet the president in person earlier this year.
Sitting on a couch in the Oval Office in September, Obama praised them as "the very best of America."
NBC Universal's Jennifer Vasquez contributed to this report.