Martin Leonard “Lenny” Skutnik III (born 1953) is not a Russian spacecraft. It was Sputnik, not Skutnik. Skutnik, you see, is a person, even if he did serve as an employee of the Congressional Budget Office. (A job he did admirably for 31 years, by the way). All kidding aside, Lenny Skutnik is an American hero, and is notable for diving into the icy Potomac River to rescue a victim of the Air Florida Flight 90 crash on January 13, 1982. The woman, Priscilla Tirado, was struggling in the water, and was too weak to grab a rescue line dropped by a helicopter. Skutnik, a bystander, saw the situation, took off his coat and boots, and swam 30 feet out to Tirado to bring her to shore, saving her life.
For his heroics, Skutnik was invited by President Reagan to attend that year’s State of the Union Address. He became the first in what have come to be known as “Lenny Skutniks.” Can you guess why they call them that? Me neither. A “Lenny Skutnik” is a notable person who is invited to sit in the President’s box at the State of the Union. These people are often people who have committed heroic acts in the prior year.
But Lenny was the first. And Lenny is the best. And for that, I have one thing to say: you go, Lenny!