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Moore Fire Chief Gary Bird will watch State of the Union speech with the first lady

Moore Fire Chief Gary Bird says he was “flabbergasted” and honored that White House chose him to represent the people who helped with recovery and relief efforts after last year's tornado.
by Chris Casteel Published: January 28, 2014

— Moore Fire Chief Gary Bird met President Barack Obama briefly at the city firehouse the president visited on his tour of the devastation wrought by the monstrous tornado that struck May 20 last year.

Bird said Monday the president thanked him that day and praised the department for its role in the recovery efforts.

Tuesday night, Bird will represent everyone who rushed to the scene as he sits with first lady Michelle Obama during the president's State of the Union speech.

Bird said he was “flabbergasted” Saturday when the White House extended the invitation and that it was a “great honor” to represent his city and the people who gave their time during the storm and in its aftermath.

A senior administration official declined to say Monday whether the president will link the tragedy in Moore to any specific policy proposal.

The official said Obama was struck during his visit a week after the tornado by the sense of community and the way people banded together.

“He was really moved,” the official said, adding that the president saw it as an example of Americans looking out for each other.

Bird has been the fire chief in Moore since June 2012; he served as deputy fire chief for nine years before that.

A prekindergarten teacher from Oklahoma City sat with the first lady last year to represent the president's early education initiative. In 2010, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett was a guest because of his work to fight obesity.

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, a former Navy pilot, said Monday he has invited Charles Woods to the speech. He is the father of a former Navy SEAL who was killed in Benghazi, Libya.

Tyrone Woods, a security official, was one of four Americans killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

Bridenstine said he was hosting “a genuine victim of failed foreign policy, who continues to be victimized by failure to appoint a House Select Committee to get to the bottom of what happened the night his son was murdered in Benghazi and to assure that what happened then will not be repeated.”

Chris Casteel, Washington Bureau

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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