Washington, DC - On the heels of marking Veterans Day, President Barack Obama hosted an intimate dinner in the Blue Room on Tuesday evening, honoring Combatant Commanders and Military Leadership. It followed a 5:30 PM Cabinet Room meeting, where the Commander in Chief discussed policy behind closed doors. (Above, a White House photo of the meeting)
First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attended the 7:00 PM dinner, the White House said, as did 56 other guests, including the spouses of the Pentagon brass. The White House released the guest list late on Tuesday evening, reprinted below.
It includes Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral William H. McRaven, USN, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; and Denis McDonough, the President's Chief of Staff.
Two wounded warriors and their spouses were also invited: Sergeant First Class Cedric King (US Army) and Captain Antoine Bates (USMC). Eun Yang, a morning anchor on DC's NBC4 TV station, came as the guest of Eric Fanning, Acting Secretary of the Air Force.
The evening was the fourth time the Commander in Chief has welcomed Pentagon brass and their spouses for such a dinner at the White House. All have been closed to press.
During President Obama's meeting in the Cabinet Room, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden were busy meeting with the spouses, holding "a Joining Forces briefing and roundtable discussion," the White House said. The meeting was also closed to press.
The White House released no menu for the dinner. In 2012, the President's closed-press dinner for Pentagon brass was on May 15, and the White House did not release a menu or guest list. The White House also did not release a menu or guest list for the President's 2011 dinner held on March 15th, but the entree was steak.
For the President's 2010 dinner, the White House offered more details: The menu was described by a White House official as "a chicken dish with winter vegetables; soup; and cherry cobbler." No guest list was released.
Not listed on the President's official daily schedule, the eat n' greet was "an opportunity to thank these women and men for their service, and to hear directly from enlisted troops and junior officers before the President and Vice President meet with the Combatant Commanders and military leadership later in the day," the White House said.
Both the President and Vice President enjoyed cheeseburgers, French fries, and side salads. The President left his server a giant tip, offering $120 in cash on a $62 tab, according to bartender Thomas Ewing-Brown, who waited on the Presidential party. The President and Vice President also regaled Ewing-Brown, a Belfast native, with tales of their own Irish heritage.
The White House Guest List...
Mr. Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff and spouse Kari McDonough
Ambassador Susan Rice, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and spouse Ian Cameron
Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, Countering WMD, and Arms Control, NSS
Dr. Stephen Flanagan, Senior Director for Defense Policy and Strategy, NSS
Dr. Ron Clark, Director for Defense Policy and Strategy, NSS
Department of DefenseChuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense and spouse Lilibet Hagel
Dr. Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense and spouse Stephanie Carter
John McHugh, Secretary of the Army
Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy and spouse Lynne Mabus
Eric Fanning, Acting Secretary of the Air Force and guest Eun Yang
General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and spouse Deanie Dempsey
Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and spouse Mary Winnefeld
General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps and spouse Bonnie Amos
General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army and spouse Linda Odierno
Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations and spouse Darleen Greenert
General Mark A. Welsh, III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force and spouse Betty Welsh
Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., Commandant of the Coast Guard and spouse Linda Papp
General Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau
General C. Robert Kehler, USAF, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command and spouse Marj Kehler
General Charles H. Jacoby Jr., Commander, U.S. Northern Command
Admiral William H. McRaven, USN, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command and spouse Georgeann McRaven
General William M. Fraser, USAF, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command and spouse Bev Fraser
Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, USN, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command and Pam Locklear
General John F. Kelly, USMC, Commander, U.S. Southern Command and spouse Karen Kelly
General Lloyd J. Austin, III, Commander, U.S. Central Command and spouse Charlene Austin
General David M. Rodriguez, Commander, U.S. Africa Command and spouse Ginny Rodriguez
General Philip M. Breedlove, Commander, U.S. European Command and spouse Cindy Breedlove
General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. Forces Korea and spouse Cindy Scaparrotti
General Keith B. Alexander, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and spouse Debbie Alexander
Wounded WarriorsSergeant First Class (US Army) Cedric King and spouse Khieda King
Captain Antoine Bates (USMC) and spouse Erica Rosario
*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House, taken in the Cabinet Room; second by pool/AP.