President Donald Trump has invited Tom Wibberley — the father of a Maryland man killed in the 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen — to attend the State of the Union speech Tuesday night as his guest, the White House said.
Also on the official guest list is Joshua Trump, a sixth-grader from Wilmington, Del.
“Unfortunately, Joshua has been bullied in school due to his last name,” the White House said in a news release. “He is thankful to the First Lady and the Trump family for their support.”
The speech was postponed from last Tuesday because of the partial government shutdown.
Wibberley's son — Craig B. Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport in Washington County — was among three Maryland sailors killed when their Norfolk, Va.-based ship stopped to refuel in Yemen's Aden harbor. Seventeen Americans in all died aboard the Navy vessel.
Trump said last month that a terrorist believed to have helped orchestrate the attack was recently killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen.
"Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole," the president tweeted Jan. 6. "We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi."
According to the White House, other guests invited to attend Trump's second State of the Union address include three relatives of a Nevada couple murdered last month by a man authorities said was likely in the United States illegally.
The president is expected to press his case for a border wall with Mexico. "If there is no Wall, there is no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions - KEEP OUT!" he tweeted Sunday.
The recent 35-day partial government shutdown was caused by a dispute over whether to fund the wall.
Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, said Monday that his guest at Tuesday's speech will be Lila Johnson of Hagerstown, a contract custodian at the Department of Agriculture who was affected by the shutdown.
According to Van Hollen, Johnson was told by her supervisor to use sick leave and vacation days "to make up for her lost pay." He and Sen. Ben Cardin, also a Democrat, are pushing for legislation to help contractors supply back pay to low-wage contractors furloughed or laid off during the shutdown.