SALT LAKE CITY — Last week, 26-year-old Lance Futch donned a white polo and drove to Hill Air Force Base for what he believed was a chance to be in the audience during a press conference with a "senior White House official."
Instead, he found himself sitting at a small table just one seat away from President Barack Obama, a speck of white in a circle of dark suits.
"If I had known it was my Commander in Chief, I definitely would have been wearing my blues," said the national guardsman, referring to the Air National Guard's dress uniform.
Futch said he was shocked but honored when the senior official turned out to be Obama.
"That's just amazing," said Futch, describing the experience of talking with not only Obama but U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
The White House had asked Lehi-based company Vivant Solar to send a representative with military affiliation to the base during Obama's visit last week.
The company chose Futch, who designs solar cells and is serving his fourth year in the Utah Air National Guard.
Futch, an Orem resident, said the President personally asked him questions about Vivant Solar and whether solar energy is a career opportunity for veterans.
He told the president that it's a growing industry and a great opportunity for a stable career path after the military.
"We're always going to have a sun," Futch told the AP on Wednesday.
At the Hill Air Force Base, Obama announced the expansion of solar energy training programs from the current three military bases to a total of 10.